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Series raises profile of S.C. health disparities

By Jeff Stensland, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-3686

When taking on a big challenge, it’s often best to view the task as a marathon rather than a sprint.

Saundra Glover knows that as well as anyone. After spending more than 20 years of her career addressing population health inequities in South Carolina, Glover says quick fixes are a pipe dream.

South Carolina ranks among the unhealthiest of states, and wide disparities in health outcomes exist based on race, geography and income. Black residents in particular suffer from disproportionately higher rates of cancer, stoke, heart disease and diabetes. The reasons involve complex social inequities which date back generations, says Glover, who serves as director of the USC’s Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities at the Arnold School of Public Health.

“It can be frustrating at times because progress takes years. You have to break things down into small chunks to be successful,” she says.

One important step is educating people about health risks and giving them the tools they need to raise awareness in their own communities. That’s one of the goals of this week’s James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture Series, which will focus on blood cancers and prostate disease.

“We try to appeal to researchers, but also to students and members of the community,” Glover says of the series, which is celebrating its sixth year. “It’s about moving the research from the lab to the classroom and ultimately to the places where people at risk can benefit.”

The series shines a light on diseases that may be underreported or not well understood and also seeks to engage medical professionals, faith-based organizations, policy makers and community leaders in larger discussions about how to best influence health in underserved populations.

“You can’t talk about something like prostate cancer without talking about poverty, housing, education and access to care,” Glover says.

About the series:

The sixth annual James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture Series is set to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 4. A panel discussion sponsored by the USC School of Medicine, titled "Health Disparities and Blood Cancers," will feature Dr. Cristina Gasparetto, Duke Medicine; Thomas Goode, advocate and multiple myeloma patient; Dr. Virginie Daguise, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control; and Dr. Ken Bridges, the senior medical director, clinical science, Onyx Pharmaceuticals. The moderator will be Vicki Kennedy, vice president of the Cancer Support Community in Washington, D.C.

The panel will take place at the USC School of Medicine in the M1 Classroom of Building 1, located on the medical school campus on Garners Ferry Road.

Noted urologist and prostate cancer researcher Dr. Isla Garraway is the featured speaker for the Clyburn Lecture Series on Friday, April 5, at 10 a.m. in the USC Russell House Theater on Greene Street. Garraway’s talk is titled "Moving Forward: Staying in the Fight to Eliminate Health Disparities and to Achieve Health Equity for All.” Garraway runs her own lab at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center, where she is studying what role adult prostate stem cells play in the development and spread of prostate cancer.

Both events are free and open to the public.

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Posted: 04/02/13 @ 2:30 PM | Updated: 04/02/13 @ 3:47 PM | Permalink

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