Health Disparities Conference Highlights Maryland’s Groundbreaking Work to Improve Health Equity

 BALTIMORE, MD (Oct. 17, 2012) — Today’s ninth annual Maryland Health Disparities Conference celebrated advances in Maryland legislation that help improve health among all Marylanders and reduce health disparities as the state strives to be a national model for health equality and reform.

The conference, held at Martin’s West in Baltimore, was sponsored by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD) and co-sponsored by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health and Maryland Center for Health Equity. This year’s theme was Advancing Healthy Public Policy: The Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Initiative.

“Addressing the persistent gaps and disparities that persist in our communities is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and the Maryland Health Disparities Conference is an important part of that effort,” said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. “It was my honor to lead the effort to pass the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012, which included establishing the Health Enterprise Zone Program. It’s these efforts, along with the great work being done at this conference, that will help create a bright, healthy future for all Marylanders."

More than four hundred people attended today’s event. Speakers and panelists included DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein; MHHD Director Dr. Carlessia A. Hussein; Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam; and Dr. E. Albert Reece, Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Maryland was honored to have in attendance Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who delivered the annual Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Lecture. At this year’s event, Maryland celebrates its groundbreaking initiative under the Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012 to reduce health disparities in the state, improve health outcomes such as infant mortality, obesity and cancer and lower health cost and hospital readmissions.

“This is an exciting and historic time in the state as we move forward to make good health and health care accessible for all Marylanders,” said Secretary Sharfstein. “Today's conference was an excellent opportunity to honor our progress in building a healthier Maryland.”

Delegate Nathan-Pulliam said, “As a nurse and a state legislator, I’ve long been a passionate advocate of bringing balance to the delivery of health care to all races and ethnicities. The Ninth Annual Maryland Minority Health Disparities Conference, including the Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Lecture Series, provides us a stage from which to examine the causes of and the solutions to health disparities that exist in Maryland.”

In addition to a presentation on Maryland’s new health improvement law, the conference also featured a presentation on the Maryland Health Disparities Collaborative, a panel of college students speaking on ensuring a culturally competent health workforce, and a session on involving communities in policy to address social determinants of health, structural racism, and discrimination.

The annual statewide conference brings together health departments, other government agencies, academic representatives, legislators, health advocates and providers, the business and insurance industries as well as communities to collaborate on ways to ensure health equity for all Marylanders.


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