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Rural health inequities focus of UMES summit

  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018
    Dr. Lennox Graham & Dr. Noel Brathwaite

    The University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the state health department co-hosted a “Health Equity Summit” April 20 at the Henson Center that attracted some 140 participants. 

    Inspired by National Minority Health Month, the day-long event was a joint project of UMES' School of Pharmacy & Health Professions and the state agency's Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. 

    Dr. Noel Brathwaite, director of the minority health disparities office, said his agency is looking to tap into faculty expertise by partnering with the university to identify and address health disparities unique to rural communities. 

    “I believe in listening to (local) health officers and constituents, who can provide us with a road map in dealing with the specific issues people face on the lower Eastern Shore,” Brathwaite said. 

    The summit was the first of its kind and organizers say they're hopeful it will lead to other gatherings elsewhere in Maryland. It attracted public health professionals from the state and local health departments, UMES and Salisbury University faculty and staff, graduate and undergraduate students as well as state and local elected officials. 

    By working with local health department officials and health care providers, the university stands to play a crucial role in guiding data-driven policy decisions that address public health concerns, he said. 

    “There's a familiarity with the issues and factors that people in rural communities deal with and if we do our analysis carefully, this expertise can help us shape solutions,” Brathwaite said. 

    Dr. Lennox A. Graham, chairman of Howard University's health sciences and management department, delivered the day's keynote address, where he outlined his views on “Essentials in Successful and Sustainable Community Engagement.” 

    Dr. Yen H. Deng from UMES' pharmacy school, Dr. William Talley, chair of the university's rehabilitation department and Voncelia Brown, a Salisbury University nursing department professor, were among those who spoke about “Public Health Activities in Partnership with Local Health Departments.” 

    Five UMES students - Que'ell Cobb, Emily Diseroad, Medora Frazier, Bernard Jordan and Alexis Smith - were afforded an opportunity to make presentations on academic projects they've been working on outside the classroom, including a student-organized event at UMES in 2016 to provide information about opioid abuse and offer solutions to those who know someone coping with the addiction.

    Event materials and presentations will be posted on the Maryland Department of Health website.