Foundation Picks UAMS in National Effort To End Racial Health Disparities

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health is one of 12 schools of public health and graduate programs selected nationally by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to help end racial and ethnic health disparities.

As part of the Foundation’s Engaged Institutions Initiative, the College of Public Health will look to partner with Arkansas communities to study racial and ethnic health disparities to identify ways to address the issue.

“African Americans, other people of color and ethnic minorities continue to experience less access to quality health care than their white counterparts despite major advances in health care,” said College of Public Health Dean James M. Raczynski, Ph.D. “These groups tend to have shorter life expectancies, higher infant mortality rates, higher rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, and worse outcomes when ill.”

The disparities persist even when socio-economic status and insurance coverage are taken into account. The problem is due to a complex combination of physiological, economic, environmental and social factors.

As part of the initiative, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH), a nonprofit organization, will assist the College of Public Health with establishing meaningful and lasting partnerships with communities to help overcome the inequalities in health care. CCPH will work with teams from the selected institutions as they develop and implement strategic action plans to become fully engaged institutions focused on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities.

Selected from 26 applicants, the College of Public Health provided evidence of commitment and participation from institutional and community leaders, made a clear and compelling case for its readiness to invest in authentic community-campus partnerships, and demonstrated the ability to engage other parts of the UAMS campus in the effort.

The College of Public Health’s selection was due in part to its existing efforts to address health disparities. UAMS’ Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Task Force was organized about a year ago. Supported by Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D., the task force is working on improving language assistance for non-English-speaking patients, primarily Hispanics. The task force also has identified other areas it hopes to address, including health care disparities, diversity of the health care work force and addressing health care issues across different cultures.

Team members from the UAMS College of Public Health will include academic administrators, faculty, staff, students and community partners who have made a commitment to collective action.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,320 students and 690 residents and is one of the state’s largest public employers with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.3 billion a year. UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.