Inequity of care, Inequity of outcomes
African Americans are more likely to die at early ages for all causes, namely:
High blood pressure (1.5x more likely than Whites)
Diabetes (1.5x more likely than Whites)
Stroke (1.5x-2x more likely than Whites)
Chronic disease indices from hypertension to heart failure — for many, the state of Black health in America is negative. Also within this population sector is the crucible of the African American physician whose ethos and ethnicity converge.
Studies show that Black health consumers do better when receiving care from Black Physicians, and it would stand to reason that Black Communities as a whole do better when we organize and create a strategic plan for community health.
The question is, what can the community rely on for its continued health care needs, particularly at the time of a global pandemic?
Community Health is about Systems, Messages and Navigation
With decades of experience in direct health care to patients and health advocacy, I have found that health improves when there is a system that works, a strong clear messaging on health, and effective advocacy to help health care consumers navigate the health care system.
A case study in ineffective systems, messaging and advocacy is the current crisis of the COVID-19 vaccine drive.
More than half of African Americans and around 40 percent of Hispanic Americans are distrustful of the vaccines and with a slow rollout and inequitable distribution, no effort seems to be made to regain that trust.
Having Faith in the Plan
Particularly where vaccinations are concerned, governments must work toward the goal of vaccinating Black and Hispanic communities.
Further, efficacy starts with communicating about the virus, the vaccine and how to access it. Officials have to overcome decades of distrust of the health care system among Black and Hispanic people. And they are starting with a major strategic disadvantage. And yet, Black Americans of Faith are the most powerful community for gathering of ideas, sharing of messages, and organizing of efforts.
In any other public health emergency, governments could count on Black churches and other faith communities to get the word out, many of them currently shut down due to the quarantine mandates and limited capacity services now, as partial re-openings begin, churches will be germane as a trusted site and source.
We don’t have innumerable, established lines of communication nor methodologies. Thus, and until such remedy is established, the church — trusted, tried and true — remains a steady vessel.
About the Author: Dr. Michael LeNoir, is a Dallas native and former president of the National Medical Association. LeNoir is founder of the African American Wellness Project, a nonprofit organization formed to address health disparities in the Black community and committed to informing minorities about how to take charge of the health care system in order to get the best health care possible.
The African American Wellness Project
Founded more than a decade ago, the African-American Wellness Project (AAWP) was formed to respond to inequities in the health care delivery system and is committed to informing minorities about how to take charge of the health care system in order to get the best health care possible.
AAWP works to improve the health of the African-American community by serving as a megaphone for trusted information that enables and encourages African Americans to better navigate the health care system, advocate for themselves, and receive improved care, regardless of insurance or circumstances.
“Health is our biggest asset, and it needs to be protected,” said Dr. Michael LeNoir, one of the nation’s top Black physicians, AAWP founder and past president of the National Medical Association. “At AAWP, we believe that health disparities will exist if we allow them to continue and that we must step up and take the lead to change this trajectory.”
AAWP has developed several multimedia tools, including a series of PSAs on the health issues that disproportionately affect the Black community. Please visit our website and multimedia page https://digitalmedia.vnr1.com/2020/11/03/2020-070_AAWP_LenoirPSAs/ to preview and download the PSA spots you find most useful for your audience. If you are interested in additional PSAs on other relevant topics, please reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“AAWP resources are targeted towards people of color and the underserved, with an emphasis on the importance of lifestyle, prevention, screening and early detection and a goal of enabling these populations to be more proactive as they navigate the health care system,” stated Monique LeNoir Pittman, AAWP Executive Director.
Dr. LeNoir is available to discuss any health topics related to the PSA program to include: Asthma, Allergies, Prostate Cancer, the importance of regular doctor visits, health equity and COVID-19 and overcoming vaccine hesitancy especially in communities of color.
Together we can help eliminate disparities in health and health care for African Americans and change the trajectory of a higher. We greatly appreciate any programming time that you can provide.
The African American Wellness Project