The fight for equity and quality extends to health care for African Americans. Long before it became a broad-based public concern, efforts were underway to ensure that economic and social barriers would not lead to increasingly severe health crises in the minority community. In the early 1930's a national Health Committee was organized under the leadership of Dr. Montague Cobb. Today, the NAACP's Health Division has been leading the effort to inform and educate the community about health care costs; quality and access; disease prevention; health care professions and training; and youth and elderly health issues. The national health coordinator works with the National Health Committee to create and implement projects, evaluate and draft policy statements, and represent the NAACP at conferences and workshops, and on advisory boards.
The National Health Committee has sponsored four Health Summit conferences since 1992, concentrating on current issues relating to the health and well being of African Americans. In an effort to share concise information on NAACP health policy in a new workbook, "Here's to Your Health: How to Organize a NAACP Health Committee," was created. Additionally, workshops and training sessions are held during the seven Regional Leadership Training conferences and other sites around the country. Health plenary sessions or workshops have been held at NAACP National Conventions for the past 10 years.
The local Chapter should sponsor collaborative programs with other national and local health groups and become the voice on the local level that advocates the health issues that affect African Americans and makes sure that these issues remain in the forefront of what is happening in the community. This will be instrumental in generating public and media interest by educating others and calling attention to problems, risk factors and potential treatments. This will ultimately put focus on improving the overall health of African Americans and improving the access of African Americans to quality health care.
There are 4 Goals identified to direct our efforts. They are:
Goal 9.1: Raise awareness of health and mental health justice issues and strengthen the grassroots health advocacy capacity of the NAACP.
Goal 9.2: Advocate for universal health insurance and access to acceptable health care.
Goal 9.3: Promote equal representation of African Americans and other minorities within the health professions and increased research funding on African American health issues.
Goal 9.4: Increase attention within the Association to the issues of environmental justice, violence as a public health issue, and the restructuring of NAACP relationships with voluntary healthcare organizations to increase their advocacy impact.