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Wal-Mart Foundation awards Meharry Medical College $1 million for women’s health research

BY Adam Kraemer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Wal-Mart Foundation Tuesday announced it was awarding a five-year, $1 million grant to the Meharry Medical College Center for Women’s Health Research.

The center, the only one in the U.S. dedicated to the study of health disparities among women of color, will use the grant to address diseases that disproportionately impact women from ethnic minorities, especially African-American women. “The Meharry Medical College Center for Women’s Health Research is leading the way in understanding the health disparities faced by women of color and how those disparities can be eradicated,” said Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of Risk Management, Benefits and Sustainability.

Current and upcoming research and studies at the center focus on reproductive health, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and social and environmental factors in women’s health, including health care access and quality.

“We are especially pleased to have the philanthropic support of the Wal-Mart Foundation as it assists us in realizing our vision of eliminating healthcare disparities through education, research and patient care,” said Wayne Riley, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, accepting the check.

“Innovative research and clinical studies at the Center are giving us greater insight as to why women of color are more likely to develop certain diseases and how biology, race and economics contribute to disparities in women’s health care,” said Valerie Montgomery Rice, senior vice president for Health Affairs, dean of the School of Medicine and executive director at the center. “This grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation will allow us to expand that critical research and broaden our educational awareness programs and community participatory research efforts.” She is also an active member on Wal-Mart’s Health Insights Panel and its External Advisory Council.

In recent years, the company has been recognized by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest corporate cash contributor in America, giving more than $270 million to support its communities throughout the U.S. Other initiatives by the company in the area of women’s health include its partnership with Speaking of Women’s Health, which provides support for educational materials and events on women’s health, and the recent expansion of its affordable prescription program to include important women’s health medications.

“The generosity of the Wal-Mart Foundation exemplifies its recognition of the need in furthering the research at the Women’s Center,” said Tennessee state Senator Thelma Harper, who was present at the event. “This enormous contribution moves our efforts to another level. Our community is indeed grateful.”

Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center. More than 25 percent of all African-American dentists and physicians are educated and trained there, and is the number one producer of African-American biomedical scientists. More than 76 percent of Meharry Medical College alumni work in underserved communities across the nation.

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Pharmaca opens 18th store in California

BY Doug Desjardins

LOS GATOS, Calif. Independent pharmacy chain Pharmaca opened its 18th store on Nov. 10 in the city of Los Gatos, Calif. “We’re excited to extend our refreshingly customer-focused approach to health care to the Los Gatos community,” said Pharmaca co-founder Barry Perzow.

The Boulder, Colorado-based chain, which specializes in blending traditional pharmacy with herbal and alternative medicines, now has seven stores in the Bay Area.

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Retailers looking to biometric identity systems to increase efficiency at the register

BY Drew Buono

FORT WAYNE, Ind. Retailers are looking for ways to speed up the movement of lines at their stores and to increase safety involving customer’s financial records. As a result, the companies are looking at biometric identity authentication systems as a way to increase customer satisfaction, according to journalgazette.net.

A couple of these systems rely on fingerprint identification wherein the consumer allows a scanned image to be taken of his index finger, which is then converted into a mathematical formula. Whenever the person’s fingerprint is scanned at a store, a match can be made between the latest scan and the mathematically coded “image” on file. The consumer then can specify the financial account to which the purchase should be charged.

These systems allow the consumer to create and access a virtual wallet containing electronic versions of credit cards, a driver’s license, checks and other documents that cannot be stolen. Moreover, a person’s age can be verified to ensure that only those customers meeting age requirements have legal access to alcohol and tobacco.

It has been estimated that 64 seconds are needed to complete the average retail transaction using a bank check and 48 seconds using a credit card. A fingerprint scanning system allows the same transaction to be completed in only 14 seconds.

Fingerprint scans are only one type of biometric system in commercial use. Some retailers and ATM systems have introduced devices that scan the consumer’s iris to make a positive identification by matching it with a previously stored image. Other systems use voice recognition software to authenticate identity.

It’s estimated that 3.5 million consumers already use biometric systems from the company Pay By Touch at more than 3,000 retail outlets, including Jewel-Osco and Albertson’s, according to journalgazette.

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