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Dr. Oliver Brooks
Dr. Oliver Brooks
Dr. Oliver Brooks

National News

NMA President Advises: Think Like Health Advocate Not Victim

By Rosaland Tyler
Associate Editor
New Journal and Guide

Although a disproportionate number of African Americans are dying from COVID-19, boost your immune system by thinking like an advocate not a victim.

This prescription was dispensed by Dr. Oliver Brooks, president of the National Medical Association and chief medical officer at Watts Healthcare, in Los Angeles. He made his remarks, after recent news reports showed the coronavirus is like a traffic pileup in many African American neighborhoods: One epidemic is jumping on another epidemic.

“We need to advocate for ourselves,” Brooks said recently in a MSNBC interview. 

To reduce health disparities amid the coronavirus pandemic, shift your focus so that you begin to think like an advocate, not a victim, said Brooks who graduated with a 1977 degree in biology in three years from Morehouse, according to his bio. He received his medical degree in 1981 from Howard University College of Medicine.

There are three ways you can avoid thinking like a victim and think like an advocate, Brooks said.

No. 1, vote in November for candidates who will protect your interests. No. 2, pose  serious questions to your physician, if a prescribed medication is not improving a specific health problem (like, say, heart trouble, which disproportionately strikes people of color). No. 3, guard your health.

CDC records show that people of color with chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, cancer,  severe obesity, diabetes, renal failure, and liver disease are at higher risk for severe illness. 

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“If we acquire the virus bad things are more likely to happen,” Brooks said in an April 2 interview with The Los Angeles Sentinel.  

Meanwhile, Brooks flipped open his prescription pad and made a few more recommendations that could provide some immunity to people of color, according to a recent Fortune magazine interview.

Change housing policies so that they protect and shelter blue collar and hourly employees who work on the front lines, he said. Provide masks and protective equipment to employees, and distribute disease prevention information to people in low-income neighborhoods during the pandemic.


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