The ‘Big Health Event’ offering free health screenings, fitness tips and more

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Health disparities have been around for a long time, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the issue. An upcoming event will focus on the issue.

The Urban League of Louisiana and Ochsner Health have teamed up to host what is being called “The Big Health Event.” It will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans on September 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dr. Ivens Laborde is the Medical Director of Global Health Education and Public Health at Ochsner.

“We want to change the paradigm,” Laborde said. “Obviously, as a result of COVID, it has become incredibly apparent how large the disparity is in terms of the adverse effects of health outcomes specifically on the African-American population.”

Tyronne Walker is vice president of the Urban League of Louisiana.

“Health care disparities mean that African-Americans are contracting disease and dying faster than whites in our state, and the good news is that we can do something about it, and that’s the major major health event,” he said.

“Ochsner Health wants to take this on head-on, and one of the ways we have to do that is to acknowledge it and understand the barriers that actually create these disparities, because they don’t happen in a vacuum, they’re long, historically based and processes of why things have become the way they are, they don’t happen by accident,” Laborde said.

Access to health care is seen as a barrier for some in black and brown communities.

“One of the structural barriers that African-Americans and other underserved and under-resourced communities have is barriers to access to care, and also the issue of equity,” Laborde said.

Some critical medical tests will be available at the event.

“In terms of the screenings, they’re going to be free, so we’re going to prioritize high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, we’re going to prioritize lung, we’re going to provide breast cancer screenings, prostate cancer screenings,” Laborde said.

He says Louisiana ranks low on health-related metrics.

“As a state, we rank 50th out of 50 states, according to the America’s Health Rankings, which is an annual analysis of the nation’s health status, and so we rank 50. That means we’re the – the unhealthy state,” Laborde said. “And you can actually quantify that in terms of premature morbidity, mortality, burden of disease, loss of economic output, psychological burden.”

Areas such as social and economic factors, physical environment, clinical care, behavior and health outcomes are considered in determining the rankings.

“Anyone who lives in Louisiana, regardless of your race, ethnicity, putting all of that aside, it’s a label that we all carry, you know, you go anywhere in the United States, you come from a state where it’s recognized that you’re the unhealthiest state in terms of health outcomes across the country, it’s a reflection on everybody,” Laborde said.

He says the event will also help health professionals learn from the community.

“Create a space where people feel welcome to have experts and have other opportunities to understand and also for us to learn from them and one of the things I really want to emphasize is the importance of solidarity because the inequalities and disparities in ultimately it’s everybody’s problem because we’re all adversely affected,” Laborde said.

Health problems also occur in children.

“There’s no shortage of people who understand that Louisiana too often ranks at the bottom of all kinds of health indicators, and in fact the Annie E. Casey Foundation came out with a report that says not only that the state ranks last in health, but we’re ranked last in terms of health outcomes for our children,” Walker said.

The event will include activities for children and adults.

“Here you do a turbo health expo, it meets the Essence empowerment area, we gather experiences so when people come in, you get an opportunity to learn resources that will help you make better health choices,” Walker said.

There will also be activities for children.

“To stimulate young minds because the earlier you GET them into STEM and stimulate them, the more likely they are to pursue academics and things of that nature,” Laborde said. “We know that one of the critical factors that determine health outcomes is your level of education, so it’s no coincidence that we rank as one of the states with the highest rates of high school dropouts and college graduates.”

And the attendees will get tips on how to cook healthier.

“Some of our city’s top African-American chefs will present health demonstrations to teach people how you can prepare the favorite dishes that all of us New Orleanians enjoy, but how you can prepare them in a healthier way Walker said. FOX 8 is one of the event’s partners.

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