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Health Equity lecture Dr. David Williams
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)
Published: 27 February 2018

International health equity expert from Harvard, David R. Williams, Ph.D., M.P.H., will make a presentation about health inequalities Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at Maranatha Church (4222 N.E. 12th Ave., Portland 97211). This event is part of an annual lecture series created to honor Dr. DeNorval Unthank, (1899-1977) a physician and civil rights activist, who for many years was the only African-American doctor in Portland. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University.

He is internationally recognized for his scholarship on the complex ways in which such determinants as socioeconomic status, racism and stress can impact health. Following apartheid in South Africa, he directed the penultimate study assessing the effects of HIV/AIDS, exposure to racial discrimination and torture on the health of South Africans. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is widely used in health studies around the globe. Dr. Williams’ TEDMED 2016 talk on how racism makes us sick has drawn millions of views. He will discuss the forces fueling health disparities and how to intervene, making Oregon – and America - healthier for all.

"I believe that your race does not have to be a determinant of your destiny,” said Dr. Williams.

“Every seven minutes a black person dies prematurely in the United States. Over 200 black people die every single day, who would not die if the health of blacks and whites were equal.”

In Oregon specifically, members of underserved communities are more likely to be diagnosed with, and suffer disproportionately from, such chronic illnesses as asthma, diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS and to die prematurely from these and other causes. Low birth weights among communities of color in Portland are 37 percent worse than for white babies. These broad, persistent disparities are neither mysterious nor preordained. They are driven by factors that include unconscious bias in our health care system.

The Dr. DeNorval Unthank Endowed Lectureship in Health Equity was created through the OHSU Foundation due to the generous support and vision of Drs. William and Nathalie Johnson, in partnership with OHSU, Legacy Health and Moda Health. “It’s clear that our health care system still works far better for some than it does for others” says Dr. William Johnson, president of Moda Health. “And those others always seem to include the poor and the marginalized, the chronically underserved,” says Dr. Nathalie Johnson, medical director of Legacy Cancer Institute. “It’s imperative now that we all work, together, to make health equity the cornerstone of health care transformation.”

About OHSU: OHSU is the only academic health center in Oregon and is nationally distinguished as a research university dedicated solely to advancing health sciences. Based in Portland, it operates the top-ranked adult and children’s hospitals in the state, and secures competitive research funding of more than $400 million. As a public organization, they also provide services for the most vulnerable Oregonians and outreach to improve health in communities across the state.

About Moda: Founded in Portland in 1955, Moda is a multifaceted organization committed to building healthier communities. The Moda family of companies includes Moda Health, Delta Dental of Oregon/Alaska, ODS Community Dental, EOCCO, Ardon Health, BenefitHelp Solutions, Astra Practice Partners, Healthy Grid, Arrow Dental and PropacPayless Pharmacy.

About Legacy Health: Legacy Health is the Portland/Vancouver metro region’s only locally-owned nonprofit health-care organization with nearly 13,000 employees. Legacy includes Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel, Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center, Legacy Silverton Medical Center, Legacy Laboratory Services, and Legacy Research Institute. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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