Race Relations Expert and Consultant to Cosby Show Delivers Saward Lecture on Health Disparities

Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research brings Harvard Psychiatrist and author Alvin Poussaint to Portland on June 24th

(PORTLAND, Ore.) June 03, 2008—In Multnomah County, African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to die from diabetes and two to six times more likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease. Hispanic teens here are six times more likely than white teens to give birth. Author Alvin Poussaint says these health disparities are indicative of what’s going on across America. In his latest book, Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, Poussaint cites some examples:

  • The infant mortality rate for African-Americans is twice that of white babies.
  • Forty percent of African-American men die prematurely from cardiovascular disease, compared to 21% of white men.
  • The death rate for HIV/AIDS is seven times greater for African-Americans than for white people.

Poussaint believes we can close the gap in health care disparities, and he will tell us how during the 18th annual Saward Lecture, sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

The lecture will take place on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Newmark Theatre in Portland (1111 SW Broadway). Tickets for the lecture are free and available by emailing sawardlecture@kpchr.org or by calling 503-335-2466.

“Dr. Poussaint has a gift for seeing hope and possibility in the most challenging of circumstances,” says Mary Durham, PhD, Director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. “That’s why we invited him to deliver the lecture and officially kick off the search for a top-caliber scientist to fill our new endowed chair of health disparities.”

The new position honors Dr. Mitch Greenlick, the founding director of Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, who will also be honored at the Saward Lecture. Under Greenlick’s leadership from 1964 to 1995, CHR became a nationally renowned research institution that played a key role in federal legislation to provide health care to disadvantaged populations.

“I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to have the endowed scientist position created and named for me,” says Dr. Greenlick, who is currently serving his fourth term in the Oregon State Legislature. “This marks the intersection of three things that have been central to my professional life – the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, health services research, and improving the health care of disadvantaged members of society.”

Dr. Poussaint will be the 18th speaker of this annual lecture series, which is named for Dr. Ernie Saward (1914–1989), the founding medical director of Kaiser Permanente Northwest, who retired in 1970.

Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a non-profit research institution whose mission is advancing knowledge to improve health. It has research sites in Portland, OR; Honolulu, HI; and Atlanta, GA.  

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