- The Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (AMMA)
- AIDS cases, shortfalls in program funding persist for Blacks, Latinos
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com)–Whether you’re Black, Asian, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, Alaskan Natives or Native Hawaiians, there is a greater disparity in your health care than in the White community.
The Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (AMMA), a new organization representing the medical minority associations, was formed in April during National Minority Health Month to address, in unity, the health issues of these populations.
“The heads of the minority medical associations met and developed a plan to deal with our health disparities,” Dr. Randall Maxey, the new head of the Alliance told The Final Call.
“We don’t get treated properly. Our people are discriminated against. We decided that there was more strength in us working together.”
The Alliance is a collaborative effort of the Asian and Pacific Physician’s Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association and the National Medical Association.
Dr. Ted Mala, immediate Past President of the Association of American Indian Physicians and a founding member of the Alliance, explained their purpose:
“More than 82 million Americans, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are at significantly higher risk for some of the most serious and deadly diseases facing our nation today.
“At the same time, access to health care for many of these people is severely limited, and the resulting cost of under-treatment to society is immense. Together with government and public and private entities, the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations is working to attack the root causes of these disparities and help close the gap.”
The Alliance plans to formally invite Congress, the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and private sectors to join their collaborative effort to eliminate health disparities in minority populations.
“We want to convene a White House Leadership Summit on health disparity in 2004. We want that meeting to result in a blueprint for ending health disparities,” said Dr. Maxey.
“We have to create cultural confidence in all areas of medical care. Some people don’t get treatment because they don’t trust the doctors they have to go to,” said Dr. Maxey. “Patients are told it’s OK for them to have an elevated blood pressure because they’re Black. This leads to kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes.”
The prominent diseases that disproportionately affect minorities include heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, immunizations, mental health and obesity.
Care for these diseases alone cost the country approximately $645 billion each year. Chronic kidney disease affects an estimated 20 million Americans–many of whom are undiagnosed and untreated–and 20 million more are at risk.
“Each of these organizations knows how to treat their people,” Dr. Marilyn Gaskins, chief medical officer of National Minority Health Month told The Final Call. “We know what it takes to turn this boat around. This group must be a major voice for eliminating disparity.”
Ethnic/minority populations are also under-treated for diabetes and hypertension, the two leading causes of end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure.
“Physicians are not always culturally competent about the appropriate medicine and diet for their patients. This determines how aggressively something needs to be addressed,” said Dr. Maxey.
Poverty, homelessness, poor living conditions, geographical isolation, lack of doctors, and lack of health insurance pose significant access barriers for many people at higher risk for serious and costly health conditions.
The AMMA is focusing on issues such as equal availability/coverage of health insurance, cultural competence, limited English proficiency, health care delivery in rural areas and the unequal distribution of health care services.
Although the AMMA is currently focusing its efforts on eliminating inequities in health care provided to specific populations, the organization believes that no American should be left behind and feels strongly that other under-served populations–including the elderly, women, children, and those in rural communities–will benefit from their initiatives.
April was National Minority Health Month and the National Minority Health Month (NMHM), held its 2nd Annual Awards dinner in Washington, DC and recognized Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, U.S. Reps. Charles B. Rangel and George R. Nethercutt, Jr., HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, industry leaders, and health advocates for outstanding contributions towards the elimination of health disparities among minority populations.
“NMHM is pleased to announce a new tool to help those fighting to eliminate health disparities. NMHM is collaborating with the newly formed Alliance of Minority Medical Associations to publish an Annual Report on the state of minority health. The Annual Report will offer a systematic approach to the elimination of health disparities,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, program director of National Minority Health Month.
Booker T. Washington started National Negro Health Week (NNHW) in 1915. From 1921 to 1953, NNHW was a program supported by the United States Public Health Service. National Minority Health Month is a rebirth of NNHW.
During the 101st congressional session, then-Congressman Stokes introduced H.J. RES. 327 to Designate September 1989, as National Minority Health Awareness Month.
National Minority Health Month was launched in April 2001 to raise awareness of and implement initiatives to reduce the problem of the minority health disparities among Blacks and African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians at the community level.
Since the conception of NMHM, governors of eight states have signed proclamations designating April as Minority Health Month. During the 107th Congress, the United States Senate and House of Representatives passed a resolution, which calls upon the President to proclaim the month of April as National Minority Health Month.