2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

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Solutions to Global Health Disparities are Focus of Teachers College Conference

A major conference at Teachers College, Columbia University, will examine the disproportionate impact that many health issues -- including HIV/AIDS, hypertension, heart disease, smoking, obesity, diabetes, cancer, infant and maternal mortality, referrals to special education, adolescent sexuality, mental illness, access to care and environmental issues -- have on people and communities of color, and what can be done about it.

The conference, "Declaring a Decade of Health Disparity Reduction: Toward Evidence-Based Models", will be held on Friday, March 10th from 8:00 a.m. -- 6:45 p.m. and Saturday, March 11th from 8: a.m. -- 7:30 p.m., at the Teachers College campus at 525 West 120th Streets between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. It is being sponsored by the College's Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation.
"The objective is to initiate a decade of health disparity reduction that moves the field toward the identification of mechanisms underlying health disparities and evidence-based models to close the multitude of urban, national, and international health gaps," said conference director Barbara C. Wallace, Associate Professor of Health Education at Teachers College.

The conference's keynote address, "New Paradigms for Inclusive Health Care: Toward Individual Patient and Population Health,"   will be delivered on Saturday evening by James O. Prochaska, Professor and Director, Cancer Prevention Research Center at The University of Rhode Island. Prochaska is internationally recognized for his work as a developer of the stage model of behavior change, which is used extensively to promote optimal heath by promoting behavioral change in behaviors around smoking, diet, alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorders, panic disorders and other behaviors. The model holds that individuals move through a series of stages of readiness to change -- recognizing the need to change, contemplating a change, making a change, and finally sustaining the new behavior -- and that it is critical to understand and identify the stage an individual is in before a successful change intervention can be designed and applied.

Earlier on Saturday, Collins Airhihenbuwa, Professor, Department of Biobehavioral Health, College of Health and Human Development at The Pennsylvania State University will deliver the plenary keynote address, "Toward Evidence-Based and Culturally Appropriate Models for Reducing Global Health Disparities."

Participants in the conference will include health disparities researchers, practitioners, and community members, as well as between academic, community-based, and faith-based organizations dedicated to closing the health inequities gap. Much of the conference's work will focus on building collaborations these various groups.

Specific conference highlights include:

-'ó A special HIV/AIDS track focusing on HIV/AIDS, which is among the most blatant examples of a global health disparity. In the U.S., the AIDS case rate for African Americans was more than 9 times that of whites in 2004.  In 2002, HIV was the #1 cause of death for African American women ages 25-34.

-'ó A panel discussion on Friday afternoon from 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. by Wallace; Michael Rebell, Executive Director of The Campaign for Educational Equity, Teachers College;  and Teachers College Professor Emeritus, Edmund Gordon on the topic of "Closing the Educational and Health Gap: Addressing Dual, Inter-related Disparities." This workshop is free and open to the public.

-'ó An honors ceremony on Saturday evening for individuals who have made exceptional contributions to combating disparities in health.  Dr. Muriel Petioni will be honored for a lifetime of achievement in addressing health disparities and mentoring black women into careers in medicine. Pernessa C. Steele will receive the Isaiah Award, given to a member of the faith community for outstanding service in mobilizing the faith-based community, building capacity and forging national and international health promotion.  The Harriet Tubman Freedom Award will be presented to C.C. Blackman for outstanding community activism calling and guiding the black community to consciousness, unity and constructive action.  

-'ó A health fair, running throughout the conference, that will be open to community members and that will showcase the work of various community-based organizations currently addressing health disparities.  Free mammograms will be provided through a mobile van that will be on site at the conference location on Friday March 10th, beginning at 8:00 am.

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