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Health Care — Forum Addresses African-American Health Issues

Novartis President Receives Prestigious Nod to National Academy of Sciences

Local businesses and nonprofit groups recently stepped up to address health issues of importance to the African-American community in San Diego.

The May 20 forum at the Bryco Distributing Co. in Downtown San Diego was sponsored by the Community Health Group, a nonprofit health plan; the Comprehensive Health Center, which has four clinics and provides medical and dental services to low-income patients; Paradise Valley Hospital; and grass-roots groups.

It offered African-Americans a rare opportunity to learn about their specific health risks, including cancer and asthma, as well as social issues and affordable health care, the Community Health Group reported.

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“We feel this is a very important community and we need to inform them of different health issues,” said Inez Gonzalez, a spokeswoman at Community Health Group.

The health group offers, among others, low-income African-Americans alternatives to obtain health care coverage.

Gonzalez explained a single parent with one child earning between $939 and $2,344 a month qualifies for Healthy Families , the federally and state-funded program that allows low-income families to buy health coverage for their children at a few dollars a month, Gonzalez said.

So far, 5,707 San Diego families are enrolled in the Healthy Families Program, Gonzalez said.

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Election: Dr. Steven Briggs, president of the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute, Inc. in San Diego, has been elected into the membership ranks of the National Academy of Sciences.

The NAS considers membership in the academy as one of the highest honors a U.S. scientist can achieve, Novartis reported May 9.

Among his achievements are the discovery of a gene that resists disease in plants.

Briggs also developed a system to map the function of genes in plants.

The Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute focuses on biotechnology research and agricultural genomics.

Please E-mail items for inclusion in the health column to Webb at mwebb@ sdbj.com.

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