Dr. Weather Looks Back On A Busy Year As NMA President

Dr-Leonard-Weather-Photo.JPG(BlackDoctor.org) — Looking back at his term as NMA president, Leonard Weather, RPh, MD, made an off-hand comment that best describes both his year in office and what the association did during the past year: “We had a mountain of success.”

Last August, shortly after taking office, Dr. Weather, traveled to Australia as part of the NMA’s Global Health Initiative, and a week before this year’s NMA Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly, he returned from Rwanda after a trip for the same program.

Those trips are bookends for his library of work on behalf of the NMA that included supporting the implementation of health system reform, starting We Stand With You — a campaign to show the association supports patients — and establishing task forces dealing with mentorship for young physicians, obesity, environmental health and HIV.

Sprinkle in writing columns for Trice Edney Wire News, blackdoctor.org and daily appearances on Radio One to discuss health issues that affect African-Americans, and Dr. Weather had an exceptional year.

“The high point of the year was the fact that we were able to have tremendous presence at the White House and were able to communicate with the staff at the White House about health care reform as it was being implemented,” Dr. Weather said. “We had an extraordinary number of accomplishments related to the processes in terms of doing this, which moved us to communicate with a coalition of 17 other health care professional organizations.

“We needed to make sure we didn’t lose some of the items important for wellness, and make sure the communities are served properly and have access to care. It was fantastic to do that.”

A second area of focus for Dr. Weather was environmental health, as evidenced by an environmental health session that will be presented Tuesday, with Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, speaking.

“So much of what happens in the communities is applicable to environmental health, and to the various toxins in the neighborhood,” he said. “We have a task force to help educate physicians and practitioners that the problems they are seeing in patients are related to what’s in the neighborhood, such as toxins in the community and within the home.”

The Obesity Task Force was developed to battle the health issues related to the obesity epidemic, Dr. Weather said. Today’s Opening Plenary Session will focus on obesity from different perspectives, including nutrition, medicine, surgery and national programs.

“The statistics related to the African-American community and obesity are overwhelming and shocking. The NMA Task Force on Obesity consists of primary care physicians, bariatric and general surgeons, psychiatrists, fitness and nutrition experts, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and a health policy expert,” he said.

The Mentorship Task Force was developed to help prepare young physicians and medical students to better prepare for careers in medicine.

“The task force has not been as active, but the second chair is the president-elect (Cedric Bright, MD), and he has an interest in it and will do a great job with it,” Dr. Weather said. “He has done a great job with the students. We will have a winner with that before it’s over with.”

Another program just getting started is We Stand With You, which emphasizes the support of the NMA for its members and their patients.

“We Stand With You works well to help us magnify our concern that we are the conscience of medicine and to let the community know that we stand with them,” Dr. Weather said. “We would like to see the community have better health. Health care reform and elimination of disparities are all things we stand for, and we stand with our patients and the physicians who are taking care of the patients.”

The NMA has also developed partnerships with groups that include AARP, the American Lung Association and the Congressional Black Caucus to work on common causes, including hunger and nutrition issues for seniors. The association also has continued to support the Global Health Initiative to bring health care to developing nations, such as Rwanda, he said.

“We stand for what’s right,” Dr. Weather said. “We stand for what’s right for the patients, for health care reform, for physicians in practice and for taking care of patients. As an organization, we stand with our patients and we stand as the conscience of medicine. We will keep moving for the betterment of society and let the world know about the NMA.”