Poster for the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12, students in University of the Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will be at the barber shops to offer free blood pressure and diabetes testing for customers. It's all part of the state-wide Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program (BBHOP). The event is happening at more than 100 barber shops in California.

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Community Engagement

Get a Haircut, Have Your Blood Pressure and Blood Glucose Checked

Pacific Pharmacy Students Organize Local Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program
May 1, 2012

Getting a hair cut this month could be a life-saving event.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 12, students in University of the Pacific's Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will be at the barber shops to offer free blood pressure and diabetes testing for customers. It's all part of the state-wide Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program (BBHOP). The event is happening at more than 100 barber shops in California.

"The event will focus on diabetes and blood pressure because those are the two major diseases that afflict African American men disproportionately," said Daniel E. Salas, a pharmacy student who is organizing the local event. "It's even more critical here as San Joaquin County ranks worst in deaths caused by diabetes for all its citizens, not just those in the African-American community."

BBHOP was founded in 2007 by the Diabetic Amputation Prevention Foundation because of the high rates of diabetes among African-American males. Last year, Pacific pharmacy students participated in it for the first time at three local shops.

"Dr. Kwabena Adubofour, local physician at the East Main Clinic & Stockton Diabetes Intervention Center has agreed to provide free follow up care to those screened with abnormal results," Salas said. "We also received tremendous positive response from the local barbers, who said they were thrilled to help with this event."

Person getting a hair cut during the Black Barbershop Health Outreach ProgramThe Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program has a grassroots approach to health screening and education. Led by Dr. Bill J. Releford, D.P.M., founder of The Diabetic Amputation Prevention (DAP) Foundation, the Black Barbershop initiative has been established cross the country.

Through black-owned barbershops, which represent a cultural institution of familiarity and trust, the outreach program has adopted a novel means to spread health information. More than 30,000 African American men have been screened in 23 cities, including New Orleans, Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington, DC, Baltimore and California since 2007 when the outreach program was launched. The ultimate goal by 2014 is to screen more than a half-million African American men.

"The need to address health care disparities in African American men is paramount in light of the fact that they have the lowest life expectancy of any group in the U.S.," said Dr. Releford, a podiatric surgeon. "For decades, the black barbershop has served as a centralized gathering place where African American men feel comfortable discussing the most important issues that impact their lives: politics, social trends, family and finances.  Now, we are introducing an important discussion of health and the critical need for health awareness."

Recent figures show African American men are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than White men, according to the Office of Minority Health - an arm of Health and Human Services, a federal agency.  Also, African American men suffer from prostrate cancer at a level that's more than twice the mortality rate for any other racial or ethnic group in the U.S., according to the CDC.    

State-wide partners of the BBHOP include Anthem Blue Cross and Medtronics. Both are leaders in the health care industry with Anthem providing affordable health care coverage in the state of California and Medtronics serving as the go-to resource for medical technology development.

The barber shops that are participating in Stockton are Tru Barber Styles, 338 E. Lafayette St.; Dudes and Divas, 345 N. California St.; and Bay Kutz, 936 N. Yosemite St.

The event will be run locally by 20 Pacific students, and the tests they administer will be free, though the patients do have to pay for the haircuts, Salas added.

For more information about the event, visit http://blackbarbershop.org/.

For more information about the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy, visit www.pacific.edu/pharmacy.

 
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