On Thursday, May 21, from 8:30 am to noon, the Community Health Equity Research Institute at the University at Buffalo will host a virtual colloquium that will address disparities found in underserved communities, particularly within African Americans neighborhoods. The organizers of the colloquium are setting out to not only address the concerns that revolve around the health and well-being of African Americans in Buffalo, but also to use the exercise in ways that will hopefully procure funding to identify long-term solutions to alleviate longstanding concerns, especially now, with the added complexities brought about by COVID-19.
“The pandemic just makes this whole topic more important and more visible,” said Tim Murphy, who is director of UB’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, funded by the National Institutes of Health. “It’s the people who experience social determinants of health who are suffering the most.”
“If we do things to improve health care, we will have no more than a 10-20% impact on social determinants of health,” he said, noting that other factors contribute far more significantly to health disparities. “It’s poverty, it’s unemployment, not having safe walkable neighborhoods, failing school systems, poor public transportation, and poor access to healthy food that are some of the things that contribute to these disparities.”
“A focus of this colloquium is to make sure that the research that we do has an impact on the community,” he said. “We can’t keep doing the same things. It’s incredible to look at some of the health outcomes and they’re the same now as they were 30 years ago. A big goal of this event and of the institute in general is listening.”
At the colloquium, UB faculty will discuss a range of research projects focused on Buffalo, such as:
- Gentrification and health disparities
- Improving asthma care in high poverty schools
- The problem of intimate partner violence
- Various methods of directly addressing disparities using telemedicine or programs to empower patient ambassadors (i.e. UB’s Patient Voices program)
- How to conduct community-based participatory research that benefits the community where the research is being done
In addition to voiced concerns by the researchers, community activist Rev. Kinzer Pointer and other community leaders will be presenting their own viewpoints, their own experiences, and their valid concerns pertaining to living in a large part of the city that has not rebounded along with the rest of the city.
Oscar Gomez, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and division chief of infectious diseases in the Department of Pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB will discuss the need for increased testing for COVID-19 antibodies, along with stepped up educational interventions on the East Side.
The purpose of this event is to begin to foster multidisciplinary working groups of faculty at UB who can submit funding applications for research projects that will advance the health and well-being of African Americans in Buffalo. One focus will be on working toward submitting a large center grant to the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities of the NIH.
The general public is welcome to attend via Webex.
Photo by Makenna Entrikin