Philosopher and Activist Dr. Cornel West said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” 

Those powerful words can inspire each and every one of us every day. And they serve as a reminder that small acts of love can go a long way toward creating the kind of society we all want to live in – a just society. 

February is Black History Month, and this year’s theme Black Health and Wellness – recognizes medical scholars and health care providers. The theme is especially timely as our nation and health care system continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The AHA has been engaged in and continues to be a part of a number of efforts to support Black Health and Wellness in the communities our members serve. I wanted to share just a few highlights of some of these efforts. 

EFFORTS TO SUPPORT THE FIELD 

Focus on Equity

With the leadership from AHA’s Board of Trustees, we have taken a number of actions to elevate equity in all of our work. We recently updated AHA’s vision and mission statements to more directly reflect the importance of equity in advancing the health of individuals and communities; we’ve issued a statement saying we must confront and eradicate structural racism, which is clearly a serious public health threat; and our Institute for Diversity and Health Equity continues to develop new resources to meet our members where they are on their health equity journey. 

In addition, in the next few months, we’ll also roll out our Equity Roadmap, which will build on AHA’s #123forEquity effort. And in May, the AHA will host its 2022 Accelerating Health Equity Conference in Cleveland. The conference is a joint effort by the IFDHE and AHA’s Community Health Improvement network to advance a shared mission to close health equity gaps by building strategic hospital-community partnerships and developing and sustaining diversity and inclusion across the field. 

Partnerships and Collaborations to Address Inequities

We’ve worked with many groups and coalitions, including the Black Coalition Against COVID-19, the National Urban League and others to disseminate and amplify accurate, accessible information to communities most impacted by COVID-19. We also developed, compiled and disseminated resources to equip our member hospitals and health systems with culturally appropriate ways to engage patients and communities that are disproportionately impacted by the virus.

Investing in Black-founded and-led Health Care Companies

AHA is among the investors and partners taking part in a first-of-its-kind movement to promote equity in access to capital for investments in Black-founded and-led companies at the forefront of health care innovation. The companies within the fund will be startups focused on developing solutions to improve access, affordability and health outcomes in communities dealing with sustained hardship. See more on AHA’s investment in Jumpstart Nova

These are only some of the efforts that AHA is involved in to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our health care system and our nation. Each one of us has a role to play and can make an impact as we strive to advance health in America and create a just society. 

Joy Lewis is AHA’s senior vice president of health equity strategies. She also is the executive director of the AHA’s Institute for Diversity and Health Equity.

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