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    Dr. Martin Luther King on Health

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | January 17th, 2016

    Dr. Martin Luther King on Health

    I wanted to know if Dr. Martin Luther King had any words of wisdom regarding health and so I decided to google his name and health and came upon the following quote:

    “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death”.

    This was said by Dr. King at a press conference before his speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights on March 26, 1966.

    Although there have been many initiatives since that time, 50 years later we are still talking about health disparity and inequality. African-Americans, Latinos, American Indian & Alaska Natives, and Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders are more likely to suffer from certain conditions, and they are more likely to get sicker, have serious complications, and even die from them.

    What do we have to do so that 50 years from now, we can have a different conversation?   Dr. King says “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” We each have the opportunity to change the landscape of health care. It is time to take a grassroots approach. We first have to be aware of what is happening. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem; we then have to be educated especially about health issues that affect us and the larger community. We then have to make the necessary changes towards prevention and/or early treatment. It will start with each of us making changes and then making changes in our immediate family, then our extended family and then our friends. This is how a domino effect is created.

    For example – you know that high blood pressure runs in your family and for Blacks salt is a big culprit. You decide that you will minimize salt in your diet, by cooking with less salt and removing the salt shaker from your home. This affects your family  because the food you cook does not have much salt. Your children grow up not eating a lot of salt. You talk to your friends about why and how you have been able to make this change and then the amount of people following you grows.  You have done a small thing in a great way.

    This can apply to so many other things, encouraging a friend to exercise, bringing fruits to a potluck, encouraging a friend to get their screening mammogram, pap smear and colonoscopy and forwarding the information from this website to a friend. You do not have to be health care provider to be a health advocate; you just have to be interested. It starts with you taking care of yourself.

    For more information on what health issues affect communities of color, click here.


    2 Responses to “Dr. Martin Luther King on Health”

    1. Linda K. Jackson says:

      Thank you soooo much for the quote from Dr. King! I never knew about his thoughts re: health issues. Your last paragraph was also a “pump up” for me. In addition to your suggestions given, I never thought of myself as a “health advocate” (although I do advocate for myself with my doctors), I encourage my friends to have healthy dialogue with their doctors, and seek additional information as well.

      • Ngozi Osuagwu, MD says:

        Thank you for your comment Linda. It is so important for all of us to know that we can all make a difference.

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