Health Disparities Lecture Series Named for Congressman Clyburn

Apr 25, 2008 Issues: Health

(Columbia, SC) – Sixth District Congressman and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn was recognized today by the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities with a lecture series in his honor.  The inaugural James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture was held this morning at the Arnold School for Public Health with a standing room only crowd. 

USC Vice President for Research and Health Sciences, Dr. Harris Pastides, called Congressman Clyburn a true hero on this issue.

“South Carolina can lead the way in eliminating health disparities thanks to the leadership of Jim Clyburn,” Dr. Pastides said.  “This lecture series will be a living legacy that will partner universities with local communities to best address the problems they face.” 

Dr. Saundra Glover, Director of the USC Institute of Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities thanked Congressman Clyburn for his ongoing efforts.

“He has been the support since the beginning in 2003,” Dr. Glover said.  “It was a shared vision, and one that wouldn’t have happened without Congressman Clyburn’s persistence and the leadership of Dr. Sorensen and Dr. Pastides.”

Congressman Clyburn accepted the recognition on behalf of the many people who are affected by health disparities. 

“We have a unique opportunity to do something now that will have long-lasting effects on future generations,” Congressman Clyburn said.  “Building an army of young minority researchers, stimulating academic excellence in public health research and advocating for better health outcomes through dialogue and action are some of the ways we can fight the disparities that affect our citizens every day.  I am personally pleased that this series which you have named in my honor will be a part of the effort to truly forge solutions through research and practice.”

The keynote speaker for the inaugural lecture series was Dr. Lovell Jones, Director of the Center for Research on Minority Health at the University of Texas.

A copy of the Congressman Clyburn speech and introduction of Dr. Jones follows.

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REMARKS - - INTRODUCTION OF KEYNOTE SPEAKER
Congressman James E. Clyburn
James E. Clyburn Health Disparities Lecture Series
Friday, April 25, 2008

Good Morning.  I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition.  I want to thank Dr. Saundra Glover and the Institute for Partnerships to Eliminate Health Disparities for naming this initiative in my honor.  I would also like to thank Dr. Andrew Sorensen, Dr. Henry Tisdale and Dr. Harris Pastides for their kind remarks and introductions, and for their tremendous support in establishing this series as a part of their research agenda. 

Since my election to Congress almost 16 years ago I have been almost single minded in my mission to improve the quality of life for residents in my district.  It became clear to me that one of the things that had to be done was the elimination of the health disparities that plague many of the communities I represent. The extraordinary prevalence of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and obesity are linked inextricably to other negative indices in these communities, like the lack of clean drinking water, high rates of poverty, low rates of educational attainment and few job opportunities.  It was apparent to me that if I were to succeed in my mission to improve the health of my constituents, I would have to tackle the underlying causes of these problems. 
 
I went to New Mexico several years ago for an event with Native Americans, who share the same health concerns as constituents in my district.  Researchers at the University of New Mexico told me that all their studies indicated that the quality of water directly related to their poor health.  Water quality is a common link in unhealthy communities. 

I am pleased to say that on Monday, I will be in Santee to participate in the dedication of the first phase of the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency’s new water treatment plant.  This is a project that I started working on before I was sworn in, and when completed will provide a six county region with clean drinking water.  Many of the communities served by this project currently draw their drinking water from contaminated wells many of which are providing water that DHEC has told us is unfit for human consumption.  I am convinced that we will see a dramatic change in the health of the communities served by the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency even before it is fully online. 

This same water project is also the key to improving other negative conditions plaguing these communities.  Access to good portable water is a key to attracting economic development to an area. But for the realization of the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency, the recent announcement $600-$700 million investment by Jafza International to build a transportation hub at Highway 301 and I-95 in Santee, would still be a dream. This is a huge step toward improving job opportunities and reducing poverty in the region. 

And as we all know, education in our state is funded through property taxes.   By attracting more businesses to the area, we will increase the value of the property and ultimately increase the tax base which funds local schools.  A better educated population with good jobs that provide health insurance leads to healthier communities. 

In my Congressional role, I have the responsibility of addressing the bigger picture.  But to be truly effective, we also must address health disparities from within the communities that are impacted.  That is why I have been pleased to do my part in addressing health disparities directly by securing federal investments -- known as earmarks -- for research programs like this one led by Dr. Saundra Glover at the Institute.  There is no better way to affect real change community by community than through those who live there and have their best interest at heart. 

This Institute is putting a public face on what has long been our private shame.  It is bringing communities together and engaging in identifying the issues affecting their health, and working with them to find meaningful solutions.     Some may call the earmarks I have secured for this Institute wasteful, but I will never apologize for investing in the fundamental needs of my constituents to protect their health. 

I am honored to accept this recognition on behalf of the many people in our communities who are affected by health disparities.  We have a unique opportunity to do something now that will have long-lasting effects on future generations.  Building an army of young minority researchers, stimulating academic excellence in public health research and advocating for better health outcomes through dialogue and action are some of the ways we can fight the disparities that affect our citizens every day.  I am personally pleased that this series which you have named in my honor will be a part of the effort to truly forge solutions through research and practice.

Introduction of Dr. Lovell Jones
Today I have yet another honor of having a well-renowned public health expert to bring remarks on the topic of health disparities research. 

Dr. Lovell Jones is the Director of the Center for Research on Minority Health at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.  He is the founding co-chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council, the nation’s largest multicultural health policy group focused on cancer and minorities and the medically underserved. 

He is the founding chair of “Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Cancer,” a national conference which provides a forum for exchanging the latest scientific and treatment information.  This biennial conference brings together people from all ethnic communities and social backgrounds to share strategies for reducing the incidence of cancer. 

Dr. Jones has joined with the American Cancer Society to hold regional hearings on cancer and the poor.  In 2002, Dr. Jones received the Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Society.  He has served on the Breast Cancer Integration Panel for the Department of Defense and published over 100 articles on various health topics and health policy.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Lovell A. Jones.

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