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National Conference on Health Disparities Set for St. Thomas

National Conference on Health Disparities Program Cover

Registration Open to Local and Regional Health Professionals, Policy Makers

Registration is open for the Seventh Annual National Conference on Health Disparities, scheduled for Nov. 13-16, at Sugar Bay Resort on St. Thomas. The University of the Virgin Islands is a major sponsor of this conference.

The 2013 conference theme is “Reducing Health Disparities Through Sustaining and Strengthening Healthy Communities.” It will focus on policies and programs to reduce health disparities, with panels addressing issues of particular importance in the Caribbean region.

Dr. Gloria Callwood, director of the Caribbean Exploratory Research Center (CERC) at UVI, noted that several members of the U.S. Congress have been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion that will conclude the conference on Saturday, Nov. 16. V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen will moderate invited panelists representing California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio and Texas.

Dr. Callwood also extended an invitation to local and regional administrators, health care providers, environmentalists and policy makers to participate in the conference.

The annual conferences bring together diverse partners, presenters, and attendees to share their knowledge of health disparities. Previous conferences have documented that social determinants, such as race, poverty, low education levels, public safety, environmental quality and inadequate housing are major contributors to health disparities, Dr. Callwood noted.

Breakout sessions will feature experts from UVI, the University of Puerto Rico, the Pan American Health Organization, and the governments of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Presenters will emphasize the role of social determinants, personal responsibility and prevention in initiatives that reduce disparities.

“This conference is important to us in the region because we have come to understand that strengthening healthy communities requires that we consider the roles that human health, environmental quality, environmental justice and economic development play in overall community development and well-being,” she said.

The conference will feature nine panels focusing on topics ranging from social determinants and healthy communities, to the impact of global climate change, from human trafficking, to gun violence and black-on-black crime. (See below for complete panel subjects.) “This is a broad range of topics that directly affect our communities,” Dr. Callwood said.

In addition to the conference’s formal agenda, Dr. Callwood noted that numerous opportunities exist for participants to interact in less structured settings to incorporate these understandings into policies and programs that reduce health disparities and enhance our islands’ and nation’s overall health and well-being.

The general registration fee is $150, through Sept. 27, and $200 through the start of the conference. The early registration rate of $150 will remain available to residents of the Virgin Islands through Oct. 27. More information, online registration and details on hotel conference rates are available from the National Health Disparities website – www.nationalhealthdisparities.com.

Conference Overview

The conference opens on Nov. 13, with an Undergraduate and Graduate Student Forum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An official opening reception follows at 7 p.m.

Day two, on Nov. 14, begins with brief opening remarks from Virgin Islands governmental leaders and presidents and other leaders from universities, medical schools and organizations involved. The keynote address is slated for 9:15 a.m. by Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church of Largo, Md. The first panel presentation follows at 1:30 p.m., with additional morning and afternoon panel sessions scheduled through Nov. 16.

The conference concludes with a roundtable discussion featuring Congressional leaders beginning at noon on Saturday, Nov. 16. Closing remarks will be made at 1:30 p.m. by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. J. Nadine Gracia.

Panel Topics

  • One – The impact of social determinants in reducing health disparities and sustaining healthy communities, with a major focus on race, poverty, education and environmental issues.
  • Two – Translational research with proven results in reducing health disparities, with a major focus on chronic and communicable diseases.
  • Three – The impact of global climate change, with emphasis on environmental quality, health, soil erosion, food supply and infrastructure.
  • Four – Prevention and personal responsibility as a major theme in reducing health disparities and sustaining healthy communities.
  • Five – Successful community-based programs for building, sustaining and strengthening healthy communities.
  • Six – The role of the public and private sector in reducing health disparities through economic development, infrastructure improvements, including energy/power generation and delivery, and a reliable, high-quality supply of water.
  • Seven – The impact of human trafficking for labor and sexual purposes at the national, state and local level.
  • Eight – The causes and impacts of violence, with emphasis on such contributing factors as guns, poverty, mental health and education, with a major focus on Black-on-Black crime.
  • Nine – Roundtable Discussion with Congressional Leaders.

The full agenda and program is available from the National Health Disparities website – www.nationalhealthdisparities.com.