NEW YORK, April 8, 2021 — Understanding how systemic racism affects the American healthcare system and how to identify it will be the message of this year’s keynote speaker at the upcoming National Kidney Foundation’s (NKF) 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings.
Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH currently serves as the Chief Health Equity Officer and Senior Vice President for the American Medical Association (AMA), where she focuses on embedding health equity within and across all the work of the AMA and leading the Center for Health Equity. She will speak during the virtual session on recognizing hate and racism as a public health issue and ways to identify it as such; identify how healthcare communities can address the issue; and discuss potential approaches to take action.
“COVID-19 has particularly ravaged patients with kidney disease in Black, Hispanic and other minority communities,” said NKF President Paul Palevsky, MD. “We look forward to Dr. Maybank’s insights into ensuring greater racial equity in healthcare as NKF increases its focus on eliminating disparities in the care of patients with kidney disease.”
“In order to dismantle systemic racism, we must first recognize how it is ingrained in every aspect of society and is constantly operating to drain, exploit, and harm,” Dr. Maybank said. “From there, we can take meaningful collective action and ensure accountability, especially at the institutional level, to advance equity and justice across our health care and other social systems. It is my honor to share this knowledge with the members of the National Kidney Foundation in the hopes of equipping more physicians with the consciousness, tools, and resources required to ensure that all people have the conditions to achieve optimal health.”
“We are honored that Dr. Maybank is joining NKF’s 2021 Spring Clinical Meetings,” said program chair Mitchell H. Rosner, MD MACP, University of Virginia, Henry B. Mulholland Professor of Medicine Chair, Department of Medicine. “Dr. Maybank’s work on health equity and systemic and structural racism is a critical starting point for us to understand how we can all work to transform the care of our patients and communities and to focus on the best outcomes for everyone.”
Dr. Maybank joined the AMA in April 2019, to launch AMA’s Center for Health Equity as their inaugural Chief Health Equity Officer. Prior to joining the AMA, Dr. Maybank served as the Founding Deputy Commissioner for the Center for Health Equity at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2014).
Aimed at strengthening equity efforts and transforming organizational culture, the Center became a model of success recognized by NYC leadership, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. She was instrumental in infusing equity at the neighborhood level and advancing the Department’s place-based approach to addressing health inequities. She also set precedence with groundbreaking work at the Office of Minority Health in the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (2006) while serving as the Founding Director. In addition, Dr. Maybank has taught medical and public health students on topics related to health inequities, public health leadership and management, physician advocacy, and community organizing in health.
NKF has put a priority on efforts to end healthcare inequality. In February, NKF announced the launch of its first-ever Health Equity Advisory Committee (HEAC) responsible for directing and championing NKF’s health equity, community health, and social justice efforts through research, education and key partnerships. The committee will work collaboratively with kidney patients, other NKF committees, as well as boards and NKF staff to advise in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that support stronger and healthier communities.