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16th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. David Satcher honored in Atlanta by the Thomas J. Blocker Society-talks health disparities

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Gerald Harmon, MD Immediate Past President of the American Medical Association
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Dr. David Satcher with Kiplyn Primus at the Thomas J. Blocker Society Gala. Dr. Satcher was honored as a Living Legend.

We’ve all heard about health equity in the last few years. If you still don’t know what that means, it is a state where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. There are societal, historical, and contemporary injustices that exist in all systems of our country. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice in health is the most inhuman form of inequality because it often results in physical death.” 

Dr. David Satcher has spoken about health equity throughout his career, and his latest book is titled “My Quest for Health Equity: Notes on Learning While Leading.” While everyone is speaking about health equity today, Dr. Satcher was one of the first to draw attention to the need. He is being honored by the Thomas J Blocker Society. The mission of The Thomas J. Blocker Society is to develop an alumni base and coordinate alumni efforts to support Morehouse’s production of excellent physicians, dentists, research scientists, pharmacists, and allied health.

I ask Dr. Satcher if there is an answer to the health equity challenge. He speaks to the need for more people from our community in the health care profession. He also says we need easier access and more supportive health care providers to improve our lifestyles.

While many people have returned to pre-pandemic behavior, I ask Dr. Satcher if we know the long-term complications from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He explains that it will be several years before we understand the long-term impact. He speaks about the people diagnosed with COVID19 pre-vaccines and those that develop long-hauler COVID19.

As many of us know, there was already an epidemic in our community Diabetes, HIV, Hypertension, and Obesity. I ask Dr. Satcher why it has been so tricky overcoming these challenges. He again speaks about lifestyle and the challenges Native, Latino, and African American communities face.

Dr. Satcher was the first US Surgeon General to release a report on our nation's mental health. He says more research is needed. He shares that people try to hide their mental health challenges. We should treat them as heart disease or liver disease.

Our lack of health education is a detriment to our good health. Dr. Satcher speaks about learning health and science in school. We must be serious about learning how our bodies work. Some people are interested in science, but everyone needs a basic understanding to care for themselves.

I asked Dr. Satcher about his latest book, and he shared that he was fortunate to have opportunities “to lead.” He speaks about going from the cotton fields of Alabama to Morehouse College. He talks about learning under the tutelage of Benjamin E. Mays, where learning was about discipline. Dr. Satcher also speaks about his parents, Ann Mattie Curry Satcher and Wilmer Satcher. With his many accomplishments and accolades, he says he tried to live up to the example set by his parents.

For more information on Dr. David Satcher
For more information on the Thomas J. Blocker Society