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Urban environments give rise to health disparities that cannot be explained by an individual’s behavior alone, but are directly related to differences in the physical and social characteristics of neighborhoods. Understanding and intervening to eliminate these disparities is fundamental to NYAM’s research and action to improve urban health. Our work targets vulnerable populations including the working poor, homebound older adults, injection drug users, and currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.
NYAM addresses urgent health problems that disproportionately affect underserved urban communities through community-based participatory research and preventive interventions. NYAM’s research unit, the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES), identifies opportunities to improve the health of urban populations and reduce health disparities, works with communities to translate those findings into interventions, and then develops and evaluates interventions with the greatest potential for scale-up and sustainability. Current studies and interventions address HIV and other infectious diseases, substance abuse, mental health, the role of social determinants of health, and seasonal and pandemic flu vaccinations. To address the persistent problem of low vaccination rates among minorities and people living in poverty, NYAM provides free seasonal influenza vaccination clinics at community-based organizations in East and Central Harlem and spreads awareness about influenza in those communities through Project VIVA. NYAM also works with the Harlem Community & Academic Partnership (HCAP) to identify social determinants of health and implement community-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of Harlem residents. HCAP addresses issues including obesity, prisoner reentry into communities, and vaccinations for hard-to-reach populations in East and Central Harlem.
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NYAM has partnered with the Drug Policy Alliance to develop and support new approaches to drug policy through the Blueprint for a Public Health and Safety Approach to Drug Policy. NYAM was instrumental in the historic reform of New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, which for over 35 years required judges to impose harsh and often punitive mandatory minimum prison sentences on drug offenders. Building on this successful effort, NYAM and DPA conducted community consultations across the state with stakeholders ranging from community residents and people who use drugs to treatment providers and heads of tenant associations. These convenings are the basis for the Blueprint which offers concrete recommendations to implementing a public health and safety approach to drug policy based on the four pillars of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and public safety.
Formerly incarcerated individuals often face barriers to health care access, including lacking the skills and information needed to access a complex and fragmented system of care, gaps in health coverage, and a shortage of health care providers that are willing or able to treat them. NYAM is working to ensure that individuals leaving the New York State prison system are linked to high-quality, effective health and social services in order to improve their health outcomes, enhance their ability to stay employed, reduce recidivism, and strengthen the health of the communities to which they return.
NYAM is committed to helping New York City minority youth, underrepresented in the health professions, to build their capacity to pursue careers in medicine, nursing, public health, social work, pharmacy, dentistry, and other health professions. NYAM’s G.I.R.L.S. (Getting into Real Life Science) and the Health Professions program works with seventh-grade African American and Latina girls to provide academic support, life skills development, and mentoring experiences with minority women health professionals. The Junior Fellows program engages eighth and ninth grade students in a technology-rich learning environment to understand the secondary research process and the nature of scientific inquiry, and invites them to continue learning as Scholars through high school and beyond. NYAM is also part of the New York City pilot program Middle School Mentoring Initiative, which recruits and trains mentors and is designed to promote students’ academic achievement, health, and goal setting development in middle schools in the South Bronx.
Dr. Boufford's Letter to The New York Times: Poverty and Obesity
NYAM President Jo Ivey Boufford addresses the racial disparities in childhood obesity rates in New York City and the need to fight obesity in every community.
This past fall, with the support of Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, NYAM’s Office of School Health Programs (OSHP) developed and launched a new component of The Junior Fellows Program, The Junior Fellows Philanthropy Project. This pilot is designed to teach students how to utilize health research as a tool in learning about philanthropy and community service. Read More >>