Some 250 people participated Friday, May 7, in a Health Disparities/Health Equity Conference titled “Mobilizing Voices for Change for Health Equity.”
Discussions are important but it is time for action, said keynote speaker Terry Mills, PhD, dean of humanities and social sciences at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
“We have to be willing to put ourselves on the line,” Mills said. “Let’s form a health disparities, health equity Tea Party.”
Mills, who kicked off the day-long event at the Anschutz Medical Campus, outlined statistics showing that nationally and in Colorado, African-Americans and Hispanics tend to struggle more than average with a variety of issues including obesity, mental health, infant mortality and AIDS.
He also said it’s vital for health-care professionals to understand other cultures.
Mills said that one key to making changes is to push for “research from the community up.” He said that this requires a change in thinking and in funding, because that kind of community work sometimes is less valued by organizations that financially support research.
The University of Colorado School of Medicine has various programs that address the kind of cultural and community connections Mills referred to. Some examples: Medical students are trained in cross-cultural communication in various ways. The school also offers the Aurora Lights program, which reaches into local schools, and a new Urban Track along with the established Rural Track program. New this fall, 10 diverse students will begin an eight-year “BA/BS-MD” program that will take them through undergraduate classes at the University of Colorado Denver with the opportunity to continue on to medical school.