50 years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech to an estimated quarter-million people at the March on Washington. As we honor this transformational moment in history, we are reminded of the importance of the continued fight for equality. As the leaders of the past have helped us make important strides in socioeconomical and racial justice, let their accomplishments inspire us to do what we can today to guarantee that every person has an equal opportunity to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

One crucial step to achieving this is to ensure that every person has equal access to quality health-care services and the ability to live healthy and productive lives. Sharing these same sentiments, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

 An article by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  highlights a number of health disparities that still exist today:

  • African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans have rates of diabetes that far exceed thoseof non-Hispanic whites.
  • African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer compared to white women and have the highest rate of mortality of all women.
  • Native Americans report more alcohol consumption and binge drinking than other racial/ethnic groups.
  • Hispanic males age 20 or younger have the highest prevalence of obesity compared to non-Hispanic whites and African Americans.
  • African American men and women are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-Hispanic whites.
  • Infant mortality occurs in African Americans 1.5 to 3 times more than in other races or ethnicities.

The Center on Health Disparities at Adventist HealthCare is passionate about its work to help close the gaps in health care that exist among different populations. We do this through raising community awareness about local health disparities, improving capacity to deliver population-based care and developing solutions to eliminate local disparities in health care.

Join us in partnering towards a healthier future by attending our 7th Annual Health Disparities Conference on Dec. 3 at the Marriot Inn & Conference Center in Hyattsville, Maryland, which will address the treatment of behavioral health as it relates to public health. Conference attendees will gain insight from health-care industry experts, spiritual leaders and consumers of behavioral health services, offering best practices to address this important health topic amidst the changing health-care landscape.

Tell us, how do you hope to live out Dr. King’s legacy today and in the days to come?