Published August 7, 2020
For years, Blacks living in certain zip codes in Buffalo have been almost three times as likely to die prematurely than whites living in other areas of the city. And that was before COVID-19.
Today’s urgent challenges of long-standing health disparities amid the COVID-19 pandemic are the focus of the annual Igniting Hope conference: Mobilizing Community Resources to Achieve Health Equity During a Global Pandemic.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Aug. 15 via Zoom. Register online. A recording of the conference will be available on the website of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). The complete agenda is also available on the CTSI website.
The conference is co-sponsored by CTSI, the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, a community organization dedicated to eliminating race, economic and geographic-based health inequities by changing the social and economic conditions that cause illness and shorten lives.
“Today, our nation is facing the challenge of how to make progress toward health equity while battling a global pandemic that has been particularly devastating to our communities of color,” says Timothy F. Murphy, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the Community Health Equity Research Institute.
Murphy notes this is the first year that the conference has been awarded funding from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The three-year, $75,000 grant will help sustain the conference and provide support for engaging the university and the community to address health disparities in Buffalo.
The conference’s keynote speaker is Rear Adm. Richardae Araojo, associate commissioner for minority health and director of the FDA’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. She will discuss “The FDA Perspective: Enhancing Racial and Ethnic Minority Representation in Clinical Trials.”
The focus on minority recruitment in clinical trials couldn’t be more timely, Murphy says.
“We are especially pleased that Dr. Araojo can join us to share her perspective at a time when increasing the participation of underrepresented groups is so important as we face this global pandemic,” he says.
Holding a conference about health disparities with strong attendance from community members has special significance in the middle of a pandemic, according to Kinzer Pointer, pastor of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church and co-convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force.
“Part of the mission we’ve undertaken is health education in the public arena,” Pointer says. “In the middle of a pandemic, that mission becomes supercritical. The more we educate people, the more we enable them to do what’s necessary to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.”
The devastation that COVID-19 has caused throughout the nation — and especially in communities of color — will be covered by presentations ranging from “The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Magnifying Lens for Health Disparities” to “Covid-19, Working With the Community to Shape Better Healthcare in Light of a Pandemic.” Breakout sessions will cover the pandemic’s impact on the community in terms of mental health, employment, schooling and housing.
Other speakers include: