Los Angeles, CA -- Visiting a barbershop in California this Saturday could mean more to you than getting a haircut. It might save your life. The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program, a unique, grassroots approach to health screening and education, will be held at more than 80 barbershops in 23 cities statewide on Saturday, May 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This Saturday's launch marks the first cities where the outreach program will be rolled out this year. In coming months, the program will be held in 27 other cities, or 50 overall. In hundreds of nearby barbershops, African American men nationwide will receive free screening for diabetes and hypertension, and learn why early detection of prostate cancer can be a life-saving decision.
Led by Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M., founder of The Diabetic Amputation Prevention (DAP) Foundation, along with a squadron of volunteers, the outreach program seeks to empower African American men to better understand cardiovascular diseases through education, testing and prevention. The program was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, UCLA and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
"The need to address health care disparities in African American men is paramount in light of the fact that they have the lowest life expectancy of any group in the U.S.," said Dr. Releford a podiatric surgeon. "For decades, the black barbershop has served as a centralized gathering place where African American men feel comfortable discussing the most important issues that impact their lives: politics, social trends, family and finances. Now, we are introducing an important discussion of health and the critical need for health awareness."
The statewide effort involves more than 80 barbershops, and aims to screen more than 2,500 men in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Bernardino, Pomona, Riverside, Corona, Moreno Valley, Paris, Redlands, Inglewood, Hawthorne, Compton, Watts, Gardena, Carson, Vallejo, Fairfield, Suisun City, Vacaville, Oakland, San Diego and other cities.
Those tested also will receive the Real Black Book, a resource guide that helps them find additional medical care providers. This year's sponsors of the book include: Novo Nordis, PhRMA, Davita Inc., Entra Health Systems, Pfizer Inc., and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Recent figures show that black men suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases. For example, African American men are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than white men, according to the Office of Minority Health, an arm of Health and Human Services, a federal agency. Also, black men experience prostrate cancer at a level that's more than twice the mortality rate for any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the CDC.
Through black-owned barbershops, which represent a cultural institution of familiarity and trust, the outreach program has adopted a novel means to spread health information. Data collected from the California barbershops will be analyzed and processed at Charles Drew University. Cardiovascular disease risk factors for African American men will be compared in various cities around the country.
"This is an amazing program on many levels," said Dr. Keith Norris, interim president, Charles Drew University. "Not only is the idea of screening African American men in barbershops critical for reaching many who may otherwise not be captured in the health care system, it creates a model for education and empowerment, which is needed to reduce health disparities."
Nearly 15,000 African American men have been tested through the outreach program in 23 cities, including New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, and New York City (Harlem) since 2007 when the program was launched. The ultimate goal by 2012 is to screen more than a half-million African American men.
The outreach program also enjoys support from health and community partners, such as: L.A. Care Health Plan, St. Mary's Hospital of Long Beach, Heritage Community Initiatives, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Mu Chi Chapter Inc. of Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., Solano Coalition for Better Health, 100 Black Men of Long Beach, CA and the National Black Nurses Association.
Since 2007, nearly 400 black-owned barbershops have participated in the program. To learn more about the health outreach effort, and to view a complete list of those barbershops involved, please go to www.BlackBarbershop.org.
Brief Profiles of the Program's Largest Sponsors:
The Diabetic Amputation Prevention (DAP) Foundation
The DAP Foundation's mission is to help decrease the diabetes-related amputation rate among high-risk populations around the world and to address the escalating number of individuals with undetected cardiovascular disease. The DAP Foundation's outreach program seeks to partner with community groups and organizations to improve health conditions that adversely affect African American males through education, prevention and early detection screenings. The foundation's efforts already have been duplicated in Oakland, Chicago, New York City (Harlem), St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta, New Orleans and other metropolitan areas. For more information on participating in the program, or learning about sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.BlackBarbershop.org.
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals. The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S. CDU is recognized as a leader in translational and health inequities research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. The university is among the top 7 percent of National Institutes of Health-funded institutions and rated one of the top 50 private universities in research in the U.S. Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the "best performer" in the University of California system for producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians. For more information, visit http://www.cdrewu.edu/
UCLA is known worldwide for the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. The university is a shared public asset that benefits society by educating students, creating knowledge through research discoveries, powering the economy and improving quality of life. It is the most popular campus in the nation for freshman applicants. UCLA ranks among the nation's leaders in competitively awarded grants and contracts to universities, receiving more than $996 million during the 2008-2009 fiscal year. UCLA has had five faculty members receive Nobel laureates.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation
The Prostate Cancer Foundation is the world's largest philanthropic source of support for prostate cancer research focused on discovering better treatments and a cure for prostate cancer. Founded in 1993, the PCF has raised more than $370 million and provided funding to more than 1,500 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF also advocates for greater awareness of prostate cancer and more governmental research funds. PCF advocacy has helped produce a 20-fold increase in government funding for prostate cancer since 1994. More information about the PCF can be found at www.pcf.org.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
For over 60 years, the CDC has been dedicated to protecting health and promoting quality of life through the prevention and control of disease, injury, and disability. The agency is committed to programs that reduce the health and economic consequences of the leading causes of death and disability, thereby ensuring a long, productive, healthy life for all people.