ABOVE PHOTO: Doris Browne, MD, MPH gets sworn in by Oliver Brooks, Speaker, House of Delegates , National Medical Association . Brown was installed at the 118th President of the National Medical Association which was held at the Marriott Hotel on Tuesday August 1st. The installation was part of the association’s 115th Convention and Assembly. (Photo: Robert Mendelsohn)
Dr. Doris Browne, the new president of the National Medical Association, says it’s time for the Black community to take charge of its healthcare.
By Denise Clay
If we got nothing else out of the recent attempts by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, African-Americans should have gotten the message that we are on our own in terms of our long-term health care.
And toward that end, Dr. Doris Browne, the new president of the National Medical Association, wants to sit down with Black professional organizations to map out a plan of attack.
At her induction as the NMA’s 118th President at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Monday night, Browne — president and CEO of the Browne and Associates health consulting company in Washington, D.C. — told the crowd that while progress had been made in addressing health care disparities during the Obama Administration, that progress is endangered.
It’s time for the Black community to take charge of this issue in the same way that another organization took charge in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Browne said.
“NMA, it’s time to act up!” she said. “We need to make a national action plan for health equity.”
While the NMA — the nation’s oldest and largest body of Black physicians — would initiate the conversation, it certainly wouldn’t be the only one talking, Browne said. This needs to be a group effort, so every group representing Black people — from professional organizations to state and national legislatures— needs to be at the table, she said.
“I have a vision for collaboration with all of the Black Professional organizations,” Browne said. “There is power in numbers and there is power in us. We have to have a patient-centric approach, but we must also be cognizant of the power of the collective. We have to do this for ourselves.”
While she didn’t give a specific date for the beginnings of this outreach, Browne had no problem saying why the push for healthcare self-determination was necessary.
For eight years, the NMA had a friend in President Barack Obama, who signed the Affordable Care Act into law and made health equity an obtainable goal.
With his determination to repeal the ACA, President Donald Trump has shown that isn’t a goal he shares.
“Today we are faced with a lack of support,” Browne said. “So it’s time to get off of the dime.”
Browne is a graduate of Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi. She has her masters in Public Health from UCLA and is also a graduate of Georgetown University Medical School. She has shown a dedication to eliminating healthcare disparities and has worked on a variety of projects focusing on breast cancer and HIV/AIDS, as well as an international disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance project for 17 West African nations impacted by the Ebola crisis.
She succeeds Dr. Richard Allen Williams, clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, as NMA President.
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