Senator Curren D. Price
Pastor William Monroe Campbell
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
Tori Bailey, MHA
Sentinel Religion Writer
Health professionals, religious leaders, community advocates and elected officials collaborated during the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative Conference on April 29. The California Legislative Black Caucus under the leadership of Caucus Chair Curren D. Price co-sponsored the event, which attracted nearly 200 people.
The day-long conference, held at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, focused on health disparities in the African American communities including preventive measures, cost-effective healthcare, equity, and capacity of treatment for all patients.
“This is one of the series of programs that Legislative Black Caucus has held throughout the state. We hope people will renew their commitment to take their health into their own hands by adopting healthy lifestyle habits in terms of eating and exercising, having more open communication with their doctors, as well as becoming more aware of what the disparities are and what they can do to prevent them,” said Price.
Among the speakers was Rev. William Monroe Campbell, pastor of Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in South Los Angeles, who explained how spirituality affects health.
“As a pastor, when we talk about salvation, this includes health and wholeness. The church has a comprehensive responsibility to take a proactive approach towards our congregation and community by stressing the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This includes spiritual, mental, and physical accountability,” said Rev. Campbell.
Healthy African American Families (HAAF), one of the event co-sponsors, was visible with their advocacy team in conjunction with Dr. David Martins, Dr. Keith Norris, and Dr. Roberto Vargas. HAAF and this particular team of medical physicians and researchers provided health-related statistical information from a historical perspective in relation to disparities. Dr. David M. Carlisle, Director of Statewide Planning and sole finalist for the presidency of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, supported the relevance of healthcare data.
According to HAAF founder Loretta Jones, “African Americans suffer great health disparities. Our goal as participants in this conference, is to get a sense of how to prevent these disparities and minimize the gap between cultures. We also hope to obtain funding to draft legislation to create policy change.”
Kaiser Permanente was also a co-sponsor and their representatives shared insight on health care access and income disparities. Dr. Kimberly Reese, Assistant Area Medical Director for Kaiser West L.A. Medical Center, said, “I think a lot of the disparity comes from lack of resources in our communities such as adequate nutrition, adequate walking areas, safe areas to play to ensure that we get the right exercise, and safer environments so that lives are more stress-free.
“This conference is a chance for physicians, health care professionals, legislators, and community leaders to come together to discuss real challenges and present strategies as to how we go forward. As we go through the next decades, we can really improve the health care of African Americans, by empowering others and ensuring our children live healthier lives.”