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Satcher to address racial disparities in healthcare

David Satcher was the 16th Surgeon General of the United States.

David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., who served as U.S. surgeon general under former President Bill Clinton and a man whose stated mission was to make public health work for all groups in the country, will speak at Lehigh Oct. 30 on the racial disparities in healthcare in the United States and across the globe.

His talk, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Packard Auditorium. The talk is sponsored by the Health Medicine and Society Faculty Seminar group, with support from a W.M. Keck Foundation Grant (the program for Applied Life Sciences).

The talk is also funded by the Visiting Lectures Committee; the Chaplain’s Office; the Science, Technology and Society program; the Multicultural Center; the Women’s Center; and the Humanities Center.

“As Lehigh becomes more and more global in its outlook, one of the biggest issues to emerge is figuring out how to provide rational healthcare across the globe,” says Linda Lowe-Krentz, professor of biological sciences who is heading up a committee to develop a new minor in “Health, Medicine and Society,” a program that will encourage students interested in health careers of all kinds to explore health, illness, and disability issues from social sciences and humanities perspectives.

“We have disparity issues even in our own country,” she continues. “Dr. Satcher has made this goal his life’s work since he left the position of U.S. surgeon general. If anyone can speak to this issue, he can.”

As surgeon general, Satcher reported on the major health issues confronting America, from obesity to the role of tobacco, and led the department’s effort to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health—an initiative that was incorporated as one of the two major goals of Healthy People 2010.

He also devoted attention to mental health, suicide prevention, oral health, sexual health and youth violence prevention, adds Lloyd Steffen, professor of religion studies, university chaplain and member of the committee charged with developing the “Health, Medicine and Society” program.

“Since leaving office, he has assumed a global leadership position in dealing with the need to eliminate health disparities, and he has much to say about the way poverty and race negatively affect the delivery of healthcare here in America and around the world,” Steffen says.

“Lehigh University is honored that a person of his stature is coming to campus to talk about an aspect of the health care crisis that is not always openly discussed—the role of race. His talk should be of interest to all citizens concerned about the healthcare crisis facing our nation and our global community.”

Satcher, currently the director of the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities and Poussaint-Satcher-Cosby Chair in Mental Health at the Morehouse School of Medicine, completed his term as surgeon general in 2002. He also served as assistant secretary for health in the department of Health and Human Services from 1998 to 2001, making him only the second person in history to have held both positions simultaneously.

He was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1993 to 1998 and was the first person to serve as both director of the CDC and surgeon general of the United States, according to Satcher’s official bio.

From December 2004 to July 2006, Satcher served as the interim president of the Morehouse School of Medicine. In recognition of his accomplishments in that role, the board voted to approve the development of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

In January 2002, Satcher was named the director of the new National Center for Primary Care (NCPC) at Morehouse. Before assuming this post, he served as a senior visiting professor with the Kaiser Family Foundation for six months.

Other leadership positions he held include interim dean of the Charles R. Drew University Medical & Sciences Center from 1977 to 1979, and president of Meharry Medical College from 1982 to 1993.

Satcher has received over 40 honorary degrees and numerous awards. Most recently he received the Sackler Award from Research!America for sustained leadership at the national level, and the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Visionary Award for engagement in research and education in the State of Georgia.

For more information about the talk, please call 610-758-6235, or go online.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2007

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