Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dealing with Health and Educational Disparities

For the fifth consecutive year, CHADD was actively involved in the annual convention of the National Medical Association. CHADD’s mission is to improve the lives of people affected by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and related conditions. NMA’s mission is to advance the art and science of medicine for people of African descent.

At this year’s NMA conference, CHADD hosted a dinner for the NMA section on psychiatry and behavioral sciences, offering presentations about AD/HD that covered the lived experience, public attitudes, and special education placement. CHADD also hosted a community forum on AD/HD at an African-American church in Atlanta.

The success of the dinner typifies CHADD. The event was a perfect example of professionals and family members educating each other and sharing their experiences. NMA psychiatry section chair Diane Buckingham, MD, who also serves on CHADD’s professional advisory board, served as emcee. The featured speaker was Karran Harper Royal, a mom from New Orleans and former member of CHADD’s board of directors. Karran spoke movingly about the experiences of her brother and her two sons, all of whom live with AD/HD.

Here are some points to ponder:

Disabilities occur at a higher rate among individuals who are African American (19.2 percent) and Hispanic/Latino (26.1 percent) than among Caucasians (18.9 percent).

African-American children are under-represented in treatment for AD/HD when compared with Caucasian children.

For African-American children with Down syndrome, life expectancy has not kept pace with increases in life expectancy for Caucasian children with Down syndrome.

African-American children with autism are typically diagnosed five years later in life than Caucasian children with autism.

Something is clearly wrong here.

With the March of Dimes, CHADD co-chairs an advocacy coalition working to convince Congress to appropriate $5 million to address racial and health disparities in health outcomes for the special populations served by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health disparities are defined as the differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, and access to health care across groups.

As CEO, one of my commitments has been to engage in meaningful and respectful outreach to the African-American community. This has been demonstrated through CHADD’s relationship with the National Medical Association, the roughly forty community forums that have been held since 2001, and my efforts as co-chair of the workgroup on health-care disparities.

Economic times are tough and CHADD’s revenue is down. It is harder to continue this work. But we are committed to continuing our work in the coming years. If you can provide financial support to help us continue this work, let us know.


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