“To advance to health equity, you must eliminate disparities,” said Dr. Linda Barry.
This is the theme of the “The National Health Disparities Elimination Summit” that will be held tomorrow at the University of Connecticut in Farmington, Connecticut. Barry, a surgeon, teacher and Chief Operating Officer at the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICTS or “the institute”), is one of lead organizers of the summit and we caught up with her this week to learn more about the summit.
The idea came for the summit came from the institute’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, who envisioned a forum that could be a platform for honest conversations about solutions for the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities.
When asked what the institute hoped to achieve, Dr. Barry answered, “The overall goal is to bring people together, exchange information, and facilitate stimulating discussions to develop a national plan to eliminate disparities. We know that we have achieved our goal when we see people talking to one another and new collaborations are formed.”
She continued, “It would be great at the end of the day, if people pull out their pens and paper to exchange information and start applying for grants together.”
The summit is expected to draw hundreds of health experts, practitioners, policymakers and community advocates together to create “real solutions” to eliminate disparities in health.
Barry spoke about how these forums are held often without the perspective of those most impacted by disparities and when asked how the institute plans to change this, she responded:
“It’s true that the traditional audience is health providers – but that’s a narrow and myopic perspective because everyone needs to involved to solve the problem. At the end of the day, it’s about the patients and it’s important that they are part of the conversation and feel invested in the issue. We have to be successful in conveying this message.”
The summit draws an impressive line of speakers from local health leaders to national health experts that include former Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan,who will deliver the keynote.
When asked who she is most looking forward to hearing speak, Barry, answered that she is looking forward to hearing all the speakers and that each person will bring their unique take on the issue. She felt that Dr. Sullivan speech, whose accomplishments are publicly known and his expert perspective and knowledge of the issue recognized, will serve to set the stage for the summit.
She believes the audience will appreciate other diverse perspectives that includes the American Public Health Association president-elect Dr. Camara Jones’ talk on the impact of racism on health.
“I have heard her speak before and her pervasive charm and beautiful use of metaphors will surely captivate the audience,” she concluded.