Congressman Brian Higgins hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C., aimed at tackling racial health disparities existing in Western New York.
The University at Buffalo was recently awarded a $21.7 million federal grant from the National Institute of Health’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards program designed to transfer clinical observation to community interventions that improve public health. Among other initiatives, the grant will support UB’s community engagement efforts as part of the recently launched UB Community Health Research Institute. The institute will provide for greater collaboration between UB researchers and students with community partners to address health challenges on Buffalo’s East Side and beyond.
Higgins brought the following leaders together to discuss additional opportunities to collaborate: Dr. Eliseo Perez-Stable, director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; Tim Murphy, director of the Health Equities Research Institute at the University at Buffalo; and Agape Baptist Church pastor the Rev. Kinzer Pointer, member of the African-American Health Disparities Task Force in Buffalo.
Last year, Higgins wrote to National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins supporting efforts by the NIH to address racial health disparities and seek information on how community organizations can work with NIH to close the gaps.
Higgins, who serves on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, wrote: “Although the United States has made significant gains toward eliminating a number of racial health disparities over the past several decades, racial minorities, especially African-Americans, continue to experience significantly worse health outcomes than their counterparts in other communities. This holds true in my district as well: in Erie County, black residents have a life expectancy five years shorter than that of white residents. The child mortality rate for black residents is more than double that of white residents, and the black infant mortality rate is more than three times the white infant mortality rate.”