Black Physicians, Those Who Treat Minority Patients Key in Addressing Minority Health Disparities, Opinion Piece Says
"Ethnic health disparities are nothing new. What's concerning is that despite federal initiatives, ... coupled with many local and state efforts to draw attention to minority health concerns, Hispanics and mostly blacks still carry the highest incidence and worst prognosis for many killer diseases," Melody McCloud -- an obstetrician and gynecologist, author, and the president and medical director of Atlanta Women's Health Care -- writes in a Hilton Head Island Packet opinion piece.
While part of the issue is related to a lack of health insurance, it is concerning that "even for those minorities with medical insurance, many still lag far behind in successful health care outcomes," McCloud writes. This "prompts one to consider that other factors come into play," including "socioeconomic status, patient apathy, fear of established medicine, denial, reliance on faith (to the exclusion of seeking medical care) and home remedies to treat serious conditions," she adds.
This week, the Georgia State Medical Association, which includes many black physicians and physicians that treat mostly minority patients, convened in Hilton Head, S.C., to discuss "new strategies for traversing the land mines of a complicated, ever-changing and not always provider friendly, health care industry." With recent federal and local reports on health disparities, the conference's "timing couldn't be better," McCloud writes.
She adds, "Despite the multilevel challenges to minority patients (and the physicians who care for them), there is hope that one day, with a concerted effort from government and private sectors, including churches, insurers, businesses and community agencies, patient apathy will wane and services will become more widely available and better utilized" (McCloud, Hilton Head Island Packet, 6/4).