2003-07-18 / Community

Promotes Health Among African-Americans

Promotes Health Among African-Americans

State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has announced the creation of Balm in Gilead Health Lines, Inc., an organi zation whose mission is to promote the health of African-Americans.

Dr. Gerald Deas, Director of Health Communications and Education at the State University of New York Down State Medical Center, and its Chief Executive Officer Arneer Robertson, a health care attorney, established the organization.

"Preventive health care can be simple if you are aware of such measures as adding certain nutrients that are absent from your diet. I believe Balm in Gilead Health Lines and its approach to education is an organization whose time has come. Its material needs to be on everyone’s reading list, bookshelf, and classroom," said Smith. He added, "I will do all I can to ensure that this information is disseminated and used to promote a healthy citizenry."

The information in the "Health Lines" letters is available to all churches for a small fee. Some churches will receive the information for free through a local health care sponsor. Churches receive four letters a month. The churches photocopy the sheets, and hand them to parishioners. During its first week of existence, Balm in Gilead Health Lines assigned up more than 30 churches in New York City and Atlanta.

"Our letters are not the standard, run of the mill fact sheets one might find elsewhere," Dr. Deas said. "We use catchy phrases, poetry, humor, and anecdotes, similar to the advice I have imparted on my patients for the past 36 years, to get our points across in a way that the reader will enjoy and readily understand."

The organization hopes to eventually serve as a national advocate on the topic of African-American health care by commenting on proposed local and federal rules and regulations and by influencing policies that affect the health of African-Americans.

"As we continue to spread our word to more churches in other areas of the country, we feel we’ll begin to see a difference in the way we take care of ourselves. Through the churches, we can make a difference," Robertson said.

Smith credited Balm in Gilead Health Lines for its innovative method of promoting health care.

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