First national conference on diversity and disparity in organ transplantation

09/19/05

(CHICAGO) Dr. Robert Higgins, chairman of cardiovascular-thoracic surgery at Rush University Medical Center, will serve as co-chair of the first national conference to address issues of potential racial and ethnic disparities in access to training and clinical care in organ transplantation. The conference, sponsored by the American Society of Transplantation (AST), is entitled "Diversity and Disparity in Organ Transplantation: Bench to Bedside, Facts and Solutions" and will be held in Washington, D.C. on September 21 and 22, 2005.

The conference is co-chaired by Dr. Jay Fishman of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and sponsored by congressional leaders Senator William Frist and Edward Kennedy.

Leaders in transplantation, academics and government have been invited to this innovative conference to explore limitations and barriers to transplantation services and develop an agenda for the future of transplantation in America. Participants will examine the training of minority health professionals in the field of transplantation, opportunities for basic and clinical research, and public policy initiatives to facilitate the overall outcomes after transplantation.

"Eliminating disparities in all aspects of healthcare particularly organ transplantation is an indisputable goal for all of us," said Higgins. "This conference is an important first step and we look forward to not only assessing the problem but also examining viable solutions to eliminate the disparities."

Racial and ethnic disparities have recently gained national attention as outlined by the National Institute of Medicine's report, 'Unequal Treatment', which concluded that "ethnic minorities were more likely than Whites to receive a lower quality of healthcare even among the insured and higher income minority populations".

An impressive panel of medical and academic experts in the field including members of the United Network for Organ Sharing, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, will lead presentations and discussion sessions. The workshop will conclude with a planning session 'Bridging the Gap Between Promise and Outcome" facilitated by Higgins and co-chair Fishman.

The Diversity and Minority Affairs Committee of The American Society of Transplantation was convened in April of 2004 under the leadership of AST President J. Fishman, M.D. The committee has developed a strategic plan to address additional issues related to transplantation including access, living donation in minorities, health and insurance issues, financial barriers or disincentives, and educational opportunities for minority healthcare providers.

The AST is an organization of transplant professionals dedicated to research, education, advocacy and patient care in transplantation science and medicine. The society comprises more than 2,300 transplant physicians, surgeons, scientists and allied health professionals. For more information or to register for the conference, call (856) 439-9986 or log onto www.a-s-t.org.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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