The U.S. House of Representatives today approved its Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations bill for health programs and included $1 million for a second year of funding to continue the national lupus health education program for physicians and healthcare providers. The education program is being led by the Office of Minority Health in the federal Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the U.S. Surgeon General and the Office of Women's Health.
"We are very pleased that the House of Representatives is continuing its strong commitment to lupus education among healthcare providers," said Margaret G. Dowd, president of the Lupus Research Institute (LRI). "Lupus is most prevalent in underserved communities. This program will help to eliminate the barrier of racial disparity in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus."
"The entire lupus community, including the families and friends of everyone with lupus, is deeply indebted to the House Appropriations Committee for its on-going concern about the need for early diagnosis of lupus," continued Dowd. "We thank all those in our LRI National Coalition of state and local lupus organizations who invested their time and energy into the effort to continue funding of the clinical education programs on lupus."
Member groups of the LRI National Coalition began their outreach in to underserved communities 10 years ago with the creation of the first neighborhood Lupus Cooperative in East Harlem, which was founded by S.L.E. Lupus Foundation of New York in 1999. Cooperatives have since been opened in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and the South Bronx, both areas with large African-American and Hispanic populations.
Over the years, the LRI National Coalition has created visibility for the needs of underserved populations through awareness building and advocacy and education programs on the national, state, and local levels. Highlights have included:
• "Invisible No More" forum on race and lupus at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in 2004.
• Educational panel on heart disease and lupus presented at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in 2005.
• Spanish language public awareness campaign to alert Hispanic women to the dangers of lupus in 2005.
• Congressional briefing on racial disparities in lupus in 2006.
• Five-city series on the increased risk of heart disease in people with lupus, particularly young women and African-American women. Presented in 2007 in conjunction with the Association of Black Cardiologists. The series was held in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Detroit.