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For Release:
January 10, 2011

Poonam Alaigh, MD, MSHCPM, FACP

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Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Commissioner to Address Medical Students to highlight “Health Equity Week” and other Medical Issues


(Trenton)  January 10 – 14 is National “Health Equity Week” and Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, will meet with medical students at UMDNJ – RWJ Medical School, to discuss graduate medical education, the health of New Jersey’s foreign born residents, and the state’s looming doctor shortage.

 “I want to hear from medical students about what they perceive to be the most pressing issues in the practice of medicine in New Jersey,” said Dr. Poonam Alaigh, Commissioner, DHSS.  “Their views on the state of medicine are especially critical in light of Gov. Chris Christie’s recent executive order forming an advisory committee to develop specific recommendations for graduate medical education.”

Health Equity Week Presentation to Medical Students:

University of Medicine and Dentistry – RWJ Medical School

675 Hoes Lane, West

Piscataway, NJ 08854

6:00 p.m.


New Jersey faces a looming doctor shortage estimated at 2,800 by year 2020. Although each year 850 physicians complete their graduate medical education in NJ, 60% leave to practice in other states.  Commissioner Alaigh will discuss with the medical students what lifestyle and other factors enter into their decision when considering where to set up practice and why they should remain in New Jersey.


Commissioner Alaigh will also address New Jersey’s changing health demographics.  New Jersey is the 3rd most diverse state in the nation, with minority and multicultural groups making up 39 percent of the population.  Some chronic diseases disproportionately impact certain minority and multicultural groups.


For example, African Americans are 15 times more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than whites; Hispanics deaths from diabetes are 35% higher than whites, and Asians have higher incidences of stomach and liver cancer deaths than New Jersey’s white population.   New Jersey’s medical students must be trained and be aware of these types of disparities when treating different ethnic groups.


About National Health Equity Week:

Health Equity Week was created to achieve the highest level of health for all people by addressing avoidable inequities in care and treatment for all groups – especially those that have experienced socioeconomic disadvantages and historical injustices.  During Health Equity Week events are held across the county to promote awareness of unnatural, systemic, avoidable, and unjust differences in health status, mortality rates and disease distribution across population groups.


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