ABC and the Long March to Health Equity
"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in
health is the most shocking and inhuman."
Dr. Martin Luther King
(at annual meeting of Medical Committee for Human Rights)
Since the enactment of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964, America has made much progress in reaching the goal of a fair and just society. Nevertheless, especially for health equity, the march to justice has been long and difficult.
Less than a decade after the historic Civil Rights Act, the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) was founded by Dr. Richard Allen Williams and 17 other leading black health professionals in 1974. The ABC has continued to work toward the lofty goal of ”Saving the Hearts and Minds of a Diverse America."
Unfortunately, African Americans continue to experience disparate cardiovascular health outcomes, a manifestation of societal factors, including differential levels of treatment and quality of care. Hence, along with the impact of social determinants of health, many patients experience less access to essential primary care services, appropriate referral to specialists, and use of evidence-based medications and devices, especially newer therapies.
The field of health disparities study and publication must seek real solutions. The ABC is committed to positive outcomes and progress and welcomes others—associations, professional organizations and civic groups—to join in our long-time struggle for health equity. Heavy lifting for all partners will be required. Further work is needed and it will take multiple approaches to finally overcome these disparities.
ABC has taken a leadership role in finding workable solutions to the issues of health care disparities. The organization has recently conducted roundtables on issues of access to new therapeutics, joined the ACC taskforce on workforce diversity, and seeks to increase minority participation in clinical trials.
Felix Sogade, MD, FACC, FHRS
Chairman of the Board
Barbara Hutchinson, MD, FACC
Keith Ferdinand, MD, FACC
Chair, ABC Initiative for Improving Health Care Access for Minorities and High Risk Populations