Opinion: Hispanics Are Often Left Out of Medical Research and Breakthroughs. It's Vital to Ensure All of Us Are Included

There is an urgent need to increase minority representation in medical research so that everyone, no matter their heritage, background or socioeconomic standing, can receive medical treatment designed with their specific needs in mind. The National Institutes of Health 'All of Us' Research Program seeks to address this with your vital input.
Opinion
President and CEO, National Hispanic Medical Association
2018-07-13T11:23:06-04:00

My personal experience in medicine began when I was a high school student, when my mother encouraged me to volunteer at a local hospital where she worked as a nurse. This provided me the opportunity to connect with patients on a personal level and gain insight into their needs at a very young age. When I began my studies in biology and public administration at Stanford University, my interest in health and medicine transformed into my calling and career. Inspired by my peers and mentors, I developed my true passion for driving progress in healthcare through inclusivity, primarily of the Hispanic community to which I belong.

I was privileged to work alongside countless inspiring health advocates in the fight for Hispanic health equity early on. Before any of us knew it, we had created our own organization, designed to represent and support Hispanic physicians, called the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), which I am still a part of to this day.

Despite tremendous progress, there remains an urgent need to increase minority representation in medical research so that all individuals, no matter their heritage, background or socioeconomic standing, can receive medical treatment designed with their specific needs in mind. The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program, seeks to address this need, and we at NHMA are proud and excited to be a partner in this groundbreaking program.

All of Us was created to advance precision medicine, ensuring that healthcare providers are armed with the information necessary to provide the most tailored and effective services to every individual across the nation. One million or more participants are being asked to share their health data, creating a research database that will help doctors identify and treat diseases and illnesses more quickly and precisely based on a patient’s background, lifestyle, environment and genetic makeup. A key component of the All of Us Research Program is to ensure the diversity of the participants involved, so the data is representative of everyone in the U.S.

NHMA’s core purpose has not changed since its inception in 1994. We are still dedicated to representing the more than 50,000 licensed Hispanic physicians living in the U.S. and working with them to improve the health of Hispanic populations across the country. Yet still today, in 2018, we hear from our physicians almost daily that they feel unable to provide their patients with the best care possible because their community’s specific health needs are not adequately captured in medical research. This is why programs like All of Us are vital in our fight for inclusivity.

National enrollment in the All of Us Research Program opened this spring. My colleagues and I are excited to participate and hope you will join us. With buy-in from our community, we can ensure that Hispanics for generations to come will have access to the best medical treatment available.

To learn more about the program and how you can get involved, please visit joinallofus.org o en Español, visite joinallofus.org/es

Note: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision News.



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