Some of the nation’s top leaders in health services, policy and research are in Columbia for the fourth annual James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture Series Thursday through Friday.
“Health disparities” are used to describe the gap in health care access and treatments for people of different backgrounds. They usually focus on the differences between races and different poverty levels.
The events will be held at the Marriott Courtyard on Assembly Street and are open to the public. Dr. Saundra Glover of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health says this year’s lecture series has been expanded to two days in order to properly discuss the issues including the Healthcare Reform Act and the effect that state and federal budget cuts will have on healthcare services. Glover says while socio-economic status has some affect on health disparities, the overwhelming factor continues to be race.
Thursday’s session, which begins at 1 pm, will focus on how funding will impact health disparities research, policy and practice. Thursday night’s 8 pm session will feature a town hall meeting on how federal and state budget cuts will impact health-related services. Glover says she hopes the town hall meeting will attract a large crowd, because a recent survey indicates that a vast majority of people don’t have a solid grasp of the new healthcare reform law. Glover says the panel will be open to take questions from the audience. Among the panelist will be former Richland County state representative Anton Gunn, who now serves as Region 4 director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Glover says a major part of the lecture is to educate people on the issue of health disparities, and how society moves from treating illness, to developing programs of prevention that can be used in communities big and small. Glover says another factor that impacts disparities is location. She says a number of budget cuts will adversely affect healthcare services in rural areas, which have historically been lacking compared to more densely populated urban areas.
Glover says, since the lectures started three years ago, she has seen communities across the state use the knowledge gained to put into action programs that have helped healthcare access and educate the public about their responsibility in improving their health through preventive measures, like eating healthier and developing an exercise program.
Dr Glover is director of the Arnold School’s Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities.