WASHINGTON — Faith United Against Alzheimer’s – an UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Coalition mobilizing the faith community in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease – today announced that The Balm In Gilead has joined the Coalition, bringing decades of experience working with African American churches in the United States to tackle urgent health challenges.
For almost 30 years, The Balm In Gilead has been a pioneer in both the faith and public health communities, garnering national recognition for its work to address the HIV epidemic in the United States and abroad. As a leader, The Balm understands the critical role faith communities are playing in prevention, education and advocacy. To support these efforts, the organization created its Healthy Churches 2020 National Conference to provide hands-on capacity building and training to congregations and their health ministries. With the inclusion of The Balm In Gilead, the Coalition’s work in promoting dignity, compassionate care and quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease will be strengthened.
“We know that African Americans are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and less likely to have a diagnosis or participate in clinical studies that will help cure this devastating disease,” said George Vradenburg, Chairman of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “The Balm In Gilead has a tremendous record of success working with faith communities to improve health for African Americans. We are honored to partner with Balm In Gilead as it turns its attention to brain health and the role congregations can play in educating and mobilizing African Americans around Alzheimer’s.”
Alzheimer’s is the fourth leading cause of death for African Americans in the United States. To address this problem, The Balm In Gilead has launched The National Brain Health Center for African Americans to raise awareness of the issues of cognitive health among African Americans, including Alzheimer’s and other dementias, by working through networks of faith-based institutions and by establishing partnerships with organizations and individuals with a shared mission.
Founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Dr. Pernessa Seele believes, “With the expected growth in our elderly population and growing disparities in diagnoses of persons with Alzheimer’s, we must engage African-American congregations and other faith institutions to educate them on the needs of persons with dementia, their caregivers, and the importance of our participation in clinical trials. We are honored and excited to partner with the Faith Coalition, and share its goals to collaborate with faith communities to provide compassionate support to the millions of families impacted by this terminal disease.”
The economic, health, social and psychological costs of Alzheimer’s disease to African Americans, already severe, are growing rapidly as the proportion of older Americans in minority groups doubles between 2012 and 2050.
“Clergy and congregations are on the frontlines of this devastating disease, offering compassionate support to people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and their families,” said Virginia Biggar, Executive Director of the Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition. “In partnership with The Balm In Gilead, the Coalition will have a significant impact on the ability of African American faith communities to educate members about dementia, including support of The Balm’s planned Memory Sunday Awareness campaign on June 17, 2017.”
The Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition believes that Alzheimer’s disease presents a moral imperative at a scale commensurate to the grave and growing threat it presents to our nation. The Coalition, which works with diverse faith-based organizations and communities, harnesses the powerful and ardent voices of leaders of all faiths and faith-based organizations to call for urgent action to advance the goals of better care, improved treatment, prevention and ultimately the realization of a cure.
Faith United Against Alzheimer’s Coalition partners include ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, and Volunteers of America.