Health disparities among gender and races, and a review of the inaugural summit’s National Action Plan was the agenda for the National Medical Association (NMA) second Summit on African-American Health. The event was held April 17 at the Washington Hilton Hotel in D.C.
NMA, the nation’s largest organization of African-American physicians, and about 20 people from diverse organizations convened to address working together in raising awareness about access to healthcare and health inequalities among the African-American population.
“If we in healthcare help begin to consider and discuss how those sectors of health inequalities occur and are disproportionately affecting persons of our community, we would much likely get a better quality of outcomes and would decrease the mortality rate in our community,” said Rahn Kennedy Bailey, chair of the Summit on African-American Health and 113th president of the NMA.
Bailey said there is a difference in the rate of access to health care amongst the different minority populations. African-American women and men between the age range of 25 and 75 in 2006 had the largest death rate from heart disease and stroke compared to other men and women in the same age range from other ethnic populations. From 2005 to 2008, the people with the largest prevalence of hypertension age 65 were African American. The infants of African-American women had death rates twice as large as infants of White Americans in 2006.
According to Bailey these statistics are inexcusable, especially as the United States has more healthcare opportunities than other countries. “The Affordable Care Act has tremendous opportunity to address issues of disparities in our community,” said Bailey to the AFRO. “Our goal would be to get everybody insured, especially in states where there is a large Medicaid population, like the South and often in the African-American communities who may be indigent or have a job that does not provide insurance.”
During the summit, Michael LeNoir, summit co-chair, said, “Our purpose is not only to get a message out, our purpose is to engage our partners to give life to what they are doing.”
Summit program director Sharon Allison-Ottey echoed LeNoir’s comment and agreed that collaboration between organizations sharing the same mission and values need to come together to expand the messaging pipeline.
When Allison-Ottey asked how organizations and advocacy groups can collaborate to educate the community, Reginald Ware, CEO of Blackdoctor.org, suggested that his organization could break the research down into a basic educational series. This breakdown would be shared on the Blackdoctor.org website.
Ronae Neal, 20, a Biology major student from Prince George’s Community College representing the United Black Fund, said the summit provided an immense amount of information on health issues in the African-American community. “I want to grow into the health industry, so I thought this would be great for me to come and hear about all the ideas that the group has and the way that the health system can be improved,” she said.
A working group session was later formed to engage the attendees in identifying and defining the strategies and tactics for the summit’s National Action Plan objectives that were assembled last year.