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    Third Annual National Conference on Health Disparities Concludes

    Industry Leaders Work Toward Finding Solutions for Better Health System

    Contact: Cherie A. Richardson / 404-752-1917 /

    Third Annual Conference on Health Disparities

    Atlanta - With the health care reform debate taking place in Washington, D.C. and across the country, it's fitting that Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, hosted the Third Annual National Conference on Health Disparities. The conference entitled "Health Care Reform: Seizing the Opportunity to Bring Equity and Justice into the U.S. Health System," featured thought leaders from every level and side of the health system debate. Congressional representatives, health care executives, top academicians, community health advocates and patients themselves came together to discuss the latest concepts in primary care - including wellness, prevention, and health care delivery - to identify solutions to make a better health system for all Americans. Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Medical University of South Carolina and the U.S. Congressional Tri-Caucus served as co-sponsors.

    Conference highlights included, Dr. John Ruffin, director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), who presented an overview of health disparities in the U.S. Ruffin detailed the disproportionate incidences of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS, incurred by people of color and noted many of the health disparities facing them show little improvement over the past 30 years.

    "The same challenges remain," said Ruffin. "Lack of insurance, lack of primary care physicians, overdependence on emergency rooms and segregated neighborhoods are still contributing factors."

    Ruffin highlighted incentives in place at NCMHD including the "Community-Based Participatory Model," which offers financial incentives over an 11-year period to bring health care solutions to the underserved.

    The newly confirmed U.S. Surgeon General and MSM graduate Dr. Regina Benjamin also served as a keynote speaker and was introduced by Dr. Louis Sullivan, MSM president emeritus and former secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Benjamin, the first black woman and doctor under age 40 elected to the American Medical Association's board of trustees, pledged to take what she learned at MSM, and at the rural, impoverished health clinic she founded to the top tier of American medicine. She said that among her goals are to combat preventable diseases and increase the number of primary care physicians. "You could say I am opening a new satellite office in Washington - one with over 300 million Americans as my patients."

    Other speakers and panelists included Dr. John E. Maupin Jr., president of MSM; Dr. Raymond Greenberg, president, Medical University of South Carolina; Dr. David Satcher, director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute of MSM; Dr. George Rust, director, National Center for Primary Care of MSM; Ambassador Andrew Young; Rep. James E. Clyburn, House Majority Whip, D-SC; Rep. John Lewis, D-GA; Del. Dr. Donna Christensen, D-VI; Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Michael Honda, D-Calif.

    Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), located in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 1975 as the Medical Education Program at Morehouse College. In 1981 Morehouse School of Medicine became an independently chartered institution and the first minority medical school established at a Historically Black College and University in the 20th century. MSM is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians. Our faculty and alumni are noted in their fields for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, and are known in the community for exceptional, culturally appropriate patient care. For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, visit us online at