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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summit to Focus on Health Equity



Health equity is everyone’s issue, and finding solutions will significantly benefit everyone.
That’s the theme behind the “Minority Health Summit 2009: Your Health, Your Faith, Your Community, and Our Future: A Regional Meeting on New Partnerships.”

David Grace —
Clara Dulaney (front row, from left), Margaret Davis, Jeannie Hodges, the Rev. Kenneth Calvert (back row, left) and the Rev. Ricardo Dorcean are coordinating the Minority Health Summit set for Saturday.

The free event, organized by MATCH (Minority Action Team For Community Health), will be held from 9:30 AM to 3 PM, Saturday, at the Toy F. Reid Employee Center at Eastman Chemical Company. in Kingsport, and is open to the public.
In addition to workshops, a town hall panel, a keynote speaker and a youth summit, the event will offer free health screenings between 7 and 9 AM. The National Kidney Foundation will conduct a comprehensive health risk appraisal, obtain a blood pressure measurement, and perform blood and urine testing. Screening participants will be given an opportunity to discuss their health and review results with onsite clinicians.
Dr. Patricia Matthews-Juarez, associate vice president of faculty affairs and development, and a professor of family and community medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, will be the keynote speake r.
The focus of the conference is to bring community members, churches, educators and regional leaders together to address the health of minorities in Northeast Tennessee. Participants will work to formulate a holistic definition for community health, recognize how African Americans are taking action to improve health in their communities, and discuss strategies and partnerships to improve health-care services and outreach in minority communities.
“This summit is for the public. This is for the community,” said Margaret Davis, program coordinator for the Northeast Tennessee Minority Resource Network and program chairman for the summit. “We are going to look at addressing the possibilities of partnerships . Some partnerships have already been established. Some are faith-based. Some are community-based. Some are research-based. We’ll also look at some of the numbers for the entire region to look at despaired populations.”
The health disparities between African Americans and other racial groups are striking, showing up in life expectancy, infant mortality and other measures of health status.
After opening remarks by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and State Rep. Joe Armstrong, the morning session will begin. After a free lunch, participants can visit various vendor booths. The afternoon session will be a town hall approach featuring questions and answers and moderated by Nathan Vaughn. Matthews-Juarez will end the summit.
Because part of the issue is educating young people, youth who attend the summit can join “Solutions for the Future,” a workshop facilitated by Dr. Cerrone Foster, the Rev. Rayford Johnson and Monique Anthony.
“We will have a simultaneous youth track, with group-led discussions around health, nutrition, disparities of youth, with them coming up with their own solutions,” Davis said.
“The challenge will be developing new strategies to eliminate bad habits. That’s why it’s so important to go through the youth,” said the Rev. Ricardo Dorcean, pastor of Central Baptist Church.
Organizers will use the summit as a forum to talk about some examples of positive programs already in place in the community. At Shiloh Baptist Church in Kingsport, members of the congregation are taking action to improve their health through healthy eating, an exercise program, and health checks at the church.
“Another example in Johnson City is a men’s health event at the Carver Recreation Center,” Davis said. “This is a regional approach. We’re looking at the entire First Congressional District.”
The benefit of these programs is lives being changed, said the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Calvert, pastor of Shiloh Baptist.
“All of this allows us to extend lives and improve life conditions,” he said.
Once the summit concludes, Davis said, organizers will look at creating a new paradigm to address the needs that are critical to achieving health equity. The new paradigm, she said, will use a four-pronged approach using partnerships: first, to strengthen communities where people live, work, worship, play, socialize and learn; two, to enhance opportunities within under-served communities to access high-quality, culturally competent health care with an emphasis on community-oriented and preventative services; third, to strengthen the infrastructure of our health system to reduce inequities and enhance the contributions from public health and health-care systems; and fourth, to support local efforts through leadership, overarching policies, and through local, state and national strate g y.
“It’s better for us to come together and try to defeat [disease] before it become problematic,” Calvert said.
“This summit is essential because people die from lack of knowledge,” Dorcean said. “Preventative medicine is the best medicine.”
For more information on the Minority Health Summit 2009, call 283-4116 or e-mail to