Wednesday, July 23, 2008


A few years ago, Black men in San Bernardino County died at an average age of 56, Black women at an average age of 63. White people in the county lived an average of 13 years longer. The African-American Health Institute has worked to decrease this disparity, and will present some of its efforts at a national conference in San Diego this October.

(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) A veteran of 35 years in the public health arena, Dr. V. Diane Woods, and other community partners within the African-American Health Institute will present results and follow-up interventions of the African American Health Planning Project of San Bernardino County at the 136th Annual Meeting & Exposition of the American Public Health Association in October.

Dr. Woods is the president and CEO of African-American Health Institute of San Bernardino County. She is also the assistant research psychologist in the psychology department of the University of California, Riverside.

“For Americans of African ancestry,” Woods cites, “there is a disproportionately higher mortality rate across all preventable health conditions. In San Bernardino County alone the average age at death for the Black population is 59 years.” One reason she points out is a lack of significant investment and “political will” of the County Supervisors to aggressively address health issues of local residents. One glaring deficit is the lack of significant funds going to Black owned community-based organizations working on health issues within their communities.

“You know the cliché,” she says: “Blacks don’t care about health concerns. It’s a myth. A similar impression carries over to Latinos and Native Americans, as well.
Look at it this way. In our county we have community groups and organizations doing what they can with limited money. These organizations start with their personal resources, donations from the churches, and a few dollars from different sponsors but not enough money to sustain programs that matter to their people. They cannot hire and pay people a decent wage to keep programs going for a long period of time. These Black organizations are doing what they can to help others, not just only Black folks.”

“Data from the AAHI Planning Project (funded by The California Endowment) indicated 78.9 percent of the Black population in the study had health insurance coverage with 60 percent having their own physicians. This type of findings also dispelled a common myth that Blacks do not have insurance. Woods has used the findings from the planning project to work with the community on nine strategic recommendations to change the poor health outcomes of Blacks.

Woods’ and the community partners’ presentation will share ways they work together to address health issues with the Black population, as well as other ethnic minorities.

The theme for this five-day meeting and exposition of national public health professionals is Public Health Without Borders.

The APHA meeting and exposition is the oldest and largest gathering of public health professionals in the world. It attracts more than 15,000 national and international physicians, administrators, nurses, educators, researchers and other related health specialists. As the APHA executives say, “The world of public health is in continual motion, and there is no better time to stay abreast of the research and learn about emerging issues.”

Dr. Woods and colleagues will present six sessions, which are “We The People – Champions for Policy Change” (with Katie Greene, health policy analyst for AAHI ); “Invisible Bars – Barriers to Women’s Health During and After Incarceration” (with Kim Carter, CEO and founder of Time For Change Foundation); “Engaging Community for Structural Changes to Eliminate Critical Public Health Social Epidemics in America and the Bahamas” (with Dr. Robin Roberts, of the Medical Society of the Bahamas); “Utilizing Community Participatory Research Methods to Document Women’s Health Issues in Prison” (with Kim Carter and Disep Ojukwu, a statistician for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health); “Epidemiological Modeling of Interventions for Women in Prison” (with Kim Carter); and “Creating a Community Driven Policy Advocacy Infrastructure to Address Ethnic Health Disparities” (with Katie Green.)

The nearly 80 conference proceedings and more than a thousand sessions will span information technology, health law, women’s issues, community research, pubic health education, gay and lesbian issues, human rights concerns, maternal and children’s health, school health education, numerous government-related topics, emergent public health issues, and matters concerning all people, especially American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

More than 700 numerous organizations’ booths will be on hand, for information and distributing free materials. Public Health students are strongly encouraged to attend. The African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County, of which Woods is CEO and president, will have its own in the Public Health Expo booth. She says, “We’ll be displaying material from our various collaborative partners and participating community stakeholders.”

The American Public Health Association Annual Meeting & Exposition runs from October 25 through 29 at the Convention Center in San Diego. The public is welcome, with a reduced fee for admission.

For further details on all aspects of the event, call (909) 880-2600.

About the African American Health Institute of San Bernardino County
AAHI-SBC is a community-based resource focused solely on improving health among Americans of African ancestry, the poor and under-represented (URM) ethnic minorities in the Inland Empire. Please visit our Web Site at and learn more about what self-help groups and others are doing to improve the conditions of Blacks. You will also find the history of AAHI-SBC, an extensive list of partners, and activities underway.