Sep 25, 2007 — Yeshiva University brought the public health systems of India and the United States closer together last week when President Richard M. Joel signed a historic memo of understanding with his counterpart from the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) at a conference, “Diversity and Disparity in Health,” sponsored by YU’s Institute of Public Health Sciences. The newly created institute is a joint project of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.
The agreement—the first of its kind between the PHFI and a New York institution—will provide world-class educational opportunities for both entities through interdisciplinary and cross-cultural study and will create unique perspectives on health and well-being to catalyze change in both nations’ public health systems.
More than 150 medical and psychology professionals, students, and faculty gathered for the two-day conference at the Geraldine Schottenstein Center on YU’s Beren Campus.
“Science discovers, medicine develops, and public health delivers,” said Dr. Srinath Reddy, president of PHFI, before signing the memo. “This trinity will be evident in our collaboration.”
Dr. Reddy discussed India’s major public health challenges in his keynote address at the conference. He focused on cardiovascular disease and pointed out that the disease’s prevalence in India varies along socioeconomic, geographic, and gender gradients. Dr. Reddy urged the country’s medical community to influence government to address these disparities by enacting effective policy changes.
“The conference was about empowering diverse people living in disparate circumstances toward optimal health and well-being,” said Sonia Suchday, PhD, assistant professor at Ferkauf and co-director of the Institute of Public Health Sciences with Dr. Paul Marantz, associate dean for clinical research education and professor of clinical epidemiology and population health at Einstein. “The institute’s activities will focus on innovative research and education to inform public health.”
Other speakers at the conference discussed health disparities in the United States. Dr. David G. Schlundt of Vanderbilt University discussed the risk of diabetes and obesity in a predominantly African-American urban area of Nashville, TN. Dr. Olajide Williams of Columbia University described the success of his stroke intervention program aimed at teaching young Harlem children the warning signs of stroke so that they, in turn, could inform their parents.
Trudy Spencer, a Hunter College graduate student, said she came to the conference to add to her professional knowledge. “As a home care nurse, I see how differently patients are treated if they don’t have insurance versus those that do,” Ms. Spencer said. “I came to this conference to broaden my knowledge of disparities that I see every day as a registered nurse.”
The Institute of Public Health Sciences sponsors conferences, conducts research, issues papers, and searches for viable answers to global health problems. This conference, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of Ferkauf Graduate School, was the institute’s inaugural conference and was cosponsored by the American Psychological Association and the Center for Ethics at Yeshiva University.