Policy pledges to reduce health disparities

Patricia Finn

Patricia Finn, professor and head of medicine at UIC College of Medicine. Photo: Jenny Fontaine/UIC Public Affairs

Two pulmonologists in the College of Medicine helped craft an official policy statement, released jointly by the American Thoracic Society and the European Respiratory Society, that pledges to work towards reducing health disparities among people with respiratory health issues worldwide.

Patricia Finn, head of the department of medicine and president of the American Thoracic Society, and Dean Schraufnagel, the society’s past president and professor of medicine and vice chair for faculty affairs in the department of medicine, led efforts to write the statement published in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“Addressing these inequalities is the core mission of our societies,” said Finn.

Reducing health disparities is also at the core of Finn’s efforts as head of the department of medicine.

“The goals of the statement are also the same as those of UIC and UI Hospital, where our staff, programs and faculty are dedicated to health equality,” she said.

“Respiratory diseases disproportionately affect socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and certain ethnic groups in both the United States and Europe,” said Schraufnagel, lead author of the writing committee working on the statement.

“The morbidity and mortality associated with these disparities takes a huge toll, especially on children.”

The societies’ goals for reducing health disparities among respiratory patients include:

• increase the number of minority physicians and health care workers in adult and pediatric pulmonary and critical care medicine

• support public education programs focusing on reducing smoking and drug addiction

• work to raise awareness of the importance of clean air and the effect of climate change on respiratory health.

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