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American College of Physicians Announces Efforts to Improve Minority Health in the U.S.

SAN DIEGO -- (April 3, 2003) The American College of Physicians (ACP), the nation's largest medical specialty organization, announced today a combination of efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and improve the health of U.S. minorities. The organization made the announcement at its 84th Annual Session, being held in San Diego April 3-5.

"America has a growing health crisis. It's a fact that minority Americans do not fare as well as whites in our health care system and disparities do exist," said ACP President, Sara E. Walker, MD, MACP. "It is our hope that these efforts raise awareness about the racial and ethnic health care disparities in our country, help educate Hispanic-Americans and blacks about diseases that affect them, and contribute to health services for minorities in the San Diego region."

ACP released "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care," a position paper that articulates the College's opposition to any form of discrimination in the delivery of health care services and its commitment to eliminating disparities in the quality of or access to health care for racial and ethnic minorities. The paper includes statements of principle and proposes actions to be taken by health policy decision-makers, the medical profession, educators and researchers.

Position 1: All patients, regardless of race, ethnic origin, nationality, primary language, or religion deserve high quality health care.
Position 2: Providing all Americans with affordable health insurance is an essential part of eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care.
Position 3: Clear communication between patients and providers is an essential part of the provider/patient relationship and affects the quality of clinical encounters.
Position 4: Physicians and other health care providers must be sensitive to cultural diversity among patients and recognize that inherent biases can lead to disparities in health care among racial and ethnic minorities.
Position 5: Action is needed throughout the entire continuum of the health care delivery system to address disparities in health care among racial and ethnic minorities.
Position 6: A diverse workforce of health professionals is an important part of eliminating disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.
Position 7: Many socioeconomic issues contribute to disparities in health care among racial and ethnic minorities. While all need to be addressed, ACP has specific recommendations concerning public education, targeting the sale of products that negatively impact the health of racial and ethnic minorities, and reducing deaths and injuries from firearms.
Position 8: Research is a vital part of identifying, monitoring and addressing disparities in health care among racial and ethnic minorities.

ACP also announced the launch of two educational videos and guidebooks to help educate Hispanic-Americans about diabetes and blacks about breast, lung and prostate cancer. Twenty-five percent of Hispanic-Americans over age 45 have diabetes, and cancer is the leading cause of death among blacks, second only to heart disease, according to the American Diabetes Association. The videos feature prominent Hispanic-Americans and blacks such as Congressman Joe Baca and actors Edward James Olmos and Liz Torres, and motivational speaker Les Brown, author Nikki Giovanni, and Karen Jackson, head of the Sisters Network. Within the videos they relate their personal or family experiences with diabetes, and with prostate, breast and lung cancers, describe the risk factors and symptoms of the diseases, and provide pointers on following a healthy lifestyle to help prevent or moderate the diseases.

ACP is providing the videos and guidebooks to its members and their patients for free as part of its national efforts to raise awareness about these diseases among minority populations. It is also working with community groups and the National Association of Black Churches to distribute the materials directly to patients.

Additionally, ACP announced that it is holding a 5K run/walk on Saturday, April 5 at 5:45 a.m. during their annual meeting. The organization expects more than 150 internal medicine physicians to participate. The proceeds of the run/walk will help fund St. Vincent De Paul Village Health Services' medical clinic outreach to minorities in the San Diego area. More than half of St. Vincent de Paul Village Health Services' 4,000 monthly patient visits are related to minority health issues.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults, reflected in the organization's trademarked phrase Doctors of Internal Medicine. Doctors for Adults. ACP publishes Annals of Internal Medicine, the most widely cited medical specialty journal in the world.

Page updated: 1-14-04

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