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Saturday March 15, 2014

The Ins and Outs of Building International Collaborations to Research Global Health Disparities

By Dr. Marlene Y. MacLeish


Dr. MacLeish presentingIn late February, The Sullivan Alliance (SA) hosted the third annual Steering Committee Meeting of the U.S.-Caribbean Alliance for Health Disparities Research (USCAHDR). As the project director, it is my privilege to discuss the significance of this unique governmental/non-governmental partnership among SA, the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Our project focuses on research to ascertain similarities and differences between U.S. and English-speaking Caribbean populations of African descent and explores how this knowledge advances current understanding of the relationship among determinants of health, including lifestyles and health practices. The framework for our analysis comes from the Institute of Medicine’s 2009 recommendations published in U.S. Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sector.

The work of the USCAHDR project is supported through a cooperative agreement, which includes the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), The Sullivan Alliance, and The University of the West Indies. Dr. Louis W. Sullivan and Dr. E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor of the UWI, serve as principal investigators of the project.

UWI is a university system serving 18 separate countries and territories in the Caribbean. The University consists of three campuses at Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and the Open Campus. There are satellite campuses in Mount Hope, Trinidad and Tobago, and Montego Bay, Jamaica, and a Centre for Hotel Tourism Management in Nassau, Bahamas. The other contributing countries are served by the Open Campus which has presence and Heads of Sites in each of the 18 countries. 

In 2012, a delegation including Dr. Sullivan, Dr. Claudia Baquet, representing the USCAHDR Steering Committee, and  I visited the UWI Mona Campus for the project’s first planning meeting. Dr. Sullivan gave a University-wide presentation, Global Health Disparities: Challenges and Opportunities, which was attended by faculty and students from across the disciplines. This event gave us important momentum and became a cornerstone for building this unique partnership.

Dr. Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H. W. Bush, brings unique leadership, including policy perspectives from his signatory, Healthy People 2000to build this synergistic collaboration among SA, the UWI and the NIMHD, which is an invaluable partner, financial supporter and an important advisor for every aspect of this venture.

As part of disseminating the project’s research findings, The Sullivan Alliance and the UWI are creating an Electronic Platform (E-Platform) which will serve as a knowledge transfer portal for researchers interested in obtaining global health disparities research data. Researchers from across the globe will soon be able to access new health disparities data on the United States and the Caribbean to craft future policy and public health interventions that impact the health of the regions.

The USCAHDR project is currently in its third phase and our team of researchers is poised to publish initial findings in prominent peer-reviewed publications and journals. As the global community turns increasing focus to the rapid development of chronic disease across the globe, we are eager to share our findings with the scientific community and to establish future collaboration targeting global health disparities reduction research.

I want to take this opportunity to salute and thank members of USCAHDR research team, including Drs. Rainford Wilks, Anselm Hennis, Trevor Ferguson, Ian Hambleton, Novie Younger-Coleman, Nadia Bennett, Lynda Williams, Aurelian Bidulescu, Mr. Christopher Hassell, Mr. Damian Francis and Ms. Brigitte Collins for their stellar contributions to this project. Also, I acknowledge the invaluable support of NIMHD professionals Drs. Nate Stinson, Jennifer Alvidrez and Irene Dankwa Mullan. 

The USCAHDR team looks forward to the next phase of our research collaborative and our collective contribution to global health disparities research.

USCAHDR Annual Steering Committee MeetingFront (left to right): Claudia R. Baquet, M.D., M.P.H., University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine; Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., Principal Investigator, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, The Sullivan Alliance; E. Nigel Harris, M.Phil, M.D., D.M., Vice Chancellor, UWI; Nigel Unwin, B.M., B.Ch., M.Sc., D.M., F.R.C.P., F.F.P.H., UWI.
Standing (left to right): Ian R. Hambleton, Ph.D., UWI; Aurelian Bidulesco, M.D., Ph.D.; Nathaniel Stinson, Jr., Ph.D., M.D., Scientific Officer, NIMHD; Robin H. Carle, B.A., COO, The Sullivan Alliance; Trevor S. Ferguson, M.B.B.S., D.M., UWI; Marshall Tulloch-Reid, M.D., Ph.D., UWI; Marlene MacLeish, Ed.D., Program Director; Jennifer L. Alvidrez, Ph.D., Health Scientist Officer, Division of Scientific Programs, NIMHD; Anselm Hennis, M.B.B.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.C.P., UWI

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Saturday February 15, 2014

Interprofessional practice, diversity initiatives to enhance healthcare in Ohio

By Jay A. Gershen D.D.S., Ph.D.


Sergio Garcia, Jay Gershen, Joxel GarciaIn June 2013, The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions, in partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and with the generous support of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, convened a conference to showcase best practices to advance diversity, interprofessional education and practice in healthcare through pipeline-to-practice efforts in Ohio. I’m proud to share a copy of the recently published conference report, which can also be found on the Ohio Alliance website.

Attendees were leaders and stakeholders representing Ohio-based academic institutions, the business and political communities, and other community entities that in some way shared interests in advancing educational pathways leading to and improving the healthcare workforce in Ohio.

The conference report highlights four themes that are critical to the development of The Sullivan Alliance, the budding Ohio Alliance and the priorities of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. These themes were reflected in the conference’s plenary sessions, panel presentations and working group discussions:

  • Middle school to pre-professional pathway programs: Programs and best practices that are designed to attract middle, high school and undergraduate students from diverse, educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to healthcare careers.
  • Innovative interprofessional training pathways: Curriculum at the pre-professional and professional school levels that focuses on programs in interprofessional healthcare team training, primary care, population health and social determinants of health, and encourages students to practice in urban and rural underserved areas.
    Attendees from Ohio Pipeline to Practice Conference
  • Diversity: Diversity becomes an essential aspect of the health professions training and healthcare delivery missions as the patient population in the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse. Demographic diversity in the healthcare workforce enhances the capacity of the healthcare system to reflect and effectively care for an increasingly diverse patient population.
  • Community engagement and resources: Initiatives that develop and strengthen the engagement of all Ohio communities are essential to composing a healthcare workforce that is reflective of and responsive to community healthcare needs. Mobilizing communities to become partners in sustaining and improving community health is crucial.

The conference outcomes ultimately prompted key stakeholders to further recognize how national imperatives and innovations translate to Ohio-based opportunities and challenges. The workgroup activities helped strengthen attendees understanding of how multiple Ohio-based interests could collaborate to improve the healthcare system and mutually advance multiple missions on that theme.

Dr. Sullivan, Marc Nivet, and Congressman Louis StokesThe combination of both the presentations and workgroup discussions served to fuel an action plan for developing the Ohio Alliance into a center of excellence. The Ohio Alliance will focus its near-term efforts on convening and focusing stakeholders on a collaborative approach to enhancing the healthcare system through interprofessional practice and diversity initiatives that span the continuum from pipeline to practice.

Clearly, the challenges and opportunities of our education and healthcare delivery systems were well considered by the participants at the conference. I encourage you to share this timely report with your colleagues.

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Wednesday January 15, 2014

America’s Healthcare Workforce – A Decade of Progress?

By Louis W. Sullivan, MD


Happy 2014! It’s hard to believe that almost 10 years have passed since the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce and the Institute of Medicine published their seminal reports* recognizing the severe shortage of minorities in the health professions and focused on opportunities to increase diversity in America’s health professions education programs at all levels, across the country. The goal of these efforts was, and is, to increase the numbers of people from underrepresented and underserved communities as professionals in the nation’s health care system. These reports shaped many projects and programs within the academic community and government aimed at reducing these shortages. As Chair of the Sullivan Commission, I am proud that our work has helped to guide healthcare workforce development for the last decade.

Today the country’s demographics have shifted. One in three Americans is a member of a racial or ethnic minority, with African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians making up more than 30% of the nation’s population. For those under the age of 20, the percentage rises to 43%. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2043, there will be no majority population in the United States.

Yet, how many of this newest generation dream of a career in the health professions? Or live in a family or community committed (yet unable) to support the necessary educational, social/emotional, and financial path toward that future? Even with the ACA and today’s improved access to healthcare, is there sufficient federal focus to train health professionals who can serve all of the Americans who now access the health system?

This 10th anniversary year gives us an important opportunity to reflect on the last decade’s successes, bring continued deficits into national focus, and identify policy leaders who can further propel implementation of the original studies’ recommendations. In addition, we will examine how a decade of technological and societal change – everything from telemedicine and electronic health information sharing to online access, mobile technology and social media – could impact the next decade – offer new pathways to health professions’ careers and more dramatically reduce health disparities.

We look forward to working with our partners and colleagues around the nation to recognize these important anniversaries, as well as reflect on how we can increase the cultural competency of our health professionals and the size of the health workforce to further improve health status, access to healthcare, and health outcomes for those whose race, ethnicity and/or socioeconomic status are still associated with health disparities.

There is much work to do!

*Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions(the Sullivan Commission) and In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce(the IOM’s Committee on Institutional and Policy-Level Strategies for Increasing the Diversity of the U.S. Healthcare Workforce).

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