(Written by: MCJ Publisher and President – Patricia Pattillo)
While President Trump campaigned and quickly repealed the Affordable Care Act, or as many called it, Obamacare, people working in healthcare all over the country have been wondering what impact this will have on their patients, their clinics and hospitals, their educational/instructional institutions and also their employment. This anxiety was an overriding topic throughout the sessions of the Disparity Health Conference, last week.
Xavier University, of New Orleans, has been an acclaimed HBCU for many years, for advancing and preparing young doctors and pharmacists. Under the leadership of Dr.
Norman Frances, the longest-continuous serving university President in the United States, the President Emeritus was the closing keynote speaker at the 10th Anniversary Health Disparities Conference, last Friday in New Orleans.
The Health Disparities Conference has been the brainchild of Dr. Kathryn B. Kennedy, Professor and Dean of the School of Pharmacy at Xavier. A scholastic giant, she long had the vision of building the Xavier School of Pharmacy into a first class department
with international prominence. Today, the Xavier School of Pharmacy is one of two Pharmacy Schools in the State of Louisiana and it exceeds.
“It is a misnomer to make budget or tax reduction an issue when the health disparities continue to be directly tied to basically two ethnic groups, Blacks and Latinos”
The Tenth Anniversary Health Disparities Conference was perfectly timed for health
professionals in the US, while others came from Puerto Rico, Canada and Africa. With
attendance nearing 500, the two-day session covered the full spectrum of health
disparities, gentrification, health equity, racial disparity and many poster and slide
presentations on research from schools throughout the world.
Cancer, breast, uterine, colon, lung and psychological assess, hepatitis, report on
smokers and reducing statistics, infant immortality, teen pregnancy, Latino/Hispanic
health disparities, diabetes, sleep apnea, HIV, adolescent health, and a plethora of other
areas were illuminated by health professionals throughout the conference. While others
were the Presenters, moderators and keynote speakers.
Highlights abound with university vice presidents, deans, endowed chairs and presidents sharing long-ranging research and findings that shall influence not only health today, but far into the future.
Racism as a disparity factor was openly discussed in many sessions, with focus on
what can be the affects of the proposed Trump healthcare revamp currently being
reviewed by the House, Senate and the General Budget Office. To the person, the audience was encouraged to acknowledge the principal issue for what it is. Racism continues to reduce access, funding and continual healthcare. “It is a misnomer to
make budget or tax reduction an issue when the health disparities continue to be directly tied to basically two ethnic groups, Blacks and Latinos,” said Dr. Brian Smedley, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Health Equity.
“this is not the time to take a back seat”
Director Gail Christopher, RN, Senior Advisor and Vice President for Truth, Racial
Healing and Transformation of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, spoke to the many issues
facing us today and the difficulty associated with acknowledging our personal racist
tendencies. They are a part of our American history and are frequently so suppressed
that it is hard to permit them to surface, but as she reminded, the Kellogg Foundation is
committed to making the transformation a national agenda and through collaborations
with schools, health institutions and communities, with its many partners, they are
showing some change.
Dr. Daniel F.K. Sarprong, Endowed Chair of the Xavier School of Pharmacy summarily
reminded attendees that this is not the time to take a back seat. All health professionals
are called to step forward, to tell the truths of the research, their studies, their trials and
their findings. “Healthcare is not a racial issue, it is a human issue, and it is incumbent
upon those charged to care for patients, to research for new ways to treat and cure
patients, and to be the first to advocate on their behalf,” he stated.
The session closed with words of wisdom from Dr. Norman Frances who shared that
he has lived to see much change, from Jim Crow Louisiana when the state paid for him
to be able to go on to university as there were no schools, in Louisiana, for Blacks
desirous of education beyond high school.
Education has to be the proverbial bootstrap that continues to uplift and mobilize our communities
The values of his family were the impetus for him persevering and becoming a lawyer
and ultimately President of Xavier University, a forty-seven year commitment, through
Katrina and Rita and innumerable firsts at this HBCU endowed from funds from Saint
Kathryn for Black and Native American children. However, he said we must increase
the number of teachers. “ Education has to be the proverbial bootstrap that continues to
uplift and mobilize our communities,” he reminded. We need educators for pre-school
through the university setting. “You do phenomenal things, and somewhere along the
way, a teacher inspired you, encouraged you or guided you, teach”, he said.
The evening closed with multiple awards for dynamic professionals including Janelle
R. Baker; Cynthia Gonzalez; Mandy J. Hill; Dr. Ernest C. Madu; Dr. Paul D. Juarez; and
special awards to the Joshua Group, LLC, Conference Facilitators, Lodriguez Murray
and Dr. Roland A. Pattillo, a 1955 graduate of Xavier University.