2014 Summit Hosted By National Medical Association Produces New Coalitions And An Ambitious Plan To Combat Disparities

    female nurse with familyEducation, Screening and Coordination with Other Entities, Including BlackDoctor.Org, Seen As An Effective Way to Decrease Black Healthcare Inequalities

    Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2014) – Members of the National Medical Association (NMA), the nation’s largest organization of African American physicians, have developed and refined an aggressive action plan to help reduce the health disparities that plague the African American community and result in an unnecessary loss of life and an annual cost to the U.S. economy of billions of dollars.

    On April 17th at the second Summit on African Health in Washington, D.C., the NMA developed the plan with a number of other key organizations. These groups included the National Black Nurses Association, Aetna Insurance, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, United Black Fund, National Society of Allied Health, and the increasingly popular BlackDoctor.org.

    The ultimate goal of the plan is to reach and educate as many African Americans as possible about such preventive healthcare measures as maintaining proper diets and nutritional habits; developing appropriate exercise regimes; and undergoing regular screenings to help mitigate health disparities. According to NMA President, Dr. Michael LeNoir, “The Affordable Care Act is not a perfect act. Just because over 7 million people sign up for insurance coverage does not automatically guarantee the elimination of the major healthcare disparities that currently exist in this nation, and especially those that exist in the African American community.”

    Specifically, the NMA and the other organizations at the Summit agreed to begin aggressively involving community based healthcare advocates, churches, businesses, school systems, and other organizations in regularly communicating information to the public on how to improve an individual’s health. Stated the Summit’s program director, Dr. Sharon D. Allison-Ottey, “Access and action go hand in hand. Access to healthcare services and the proactive action to maintain good health, when that access is available, are directly tied to the elimination of healthcare disparities in the African American community.”

    Added NMA President, Dr. LeNoir, “Cancer is common in the African American community, so we have to do more to continuously educate African Americans about all aspects of this disease, particularly breast and prostrate cancer. Screenings need to be provided wherever and whenever possible.”

    Continued Dr. LeNoir, “African American women with breast cancer, for example, are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Prostrate cancer, on the other hand, is the most common cancer among American men of all ethnic groups. But the incidence of African American males suffering from prostrate cancer is 66% higher than white males and the mortality rate of African American males with the dreaded cancer is twice as high as white men.”

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