Outreach Program Educates New York Immigrants about Liver Disease
Three specialists from the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation (CLDT) at NYP/Columbia spoke at a special event for the Asian community in Flushing, NY May 7, 2012. Between 300 and 400 people attended the event, titled Prevention and Treatment of Liver Diseases for Asians, which was hosted by Asia Bank. The presentation was given to raise awareness about liver diseases and to encourage Asian immigrants to seek treatment.
Lorna Dove, MD, MPH, Medical Director of Adult Liver Transplantation at the CLDT, spoke about hepatitis B and its symptoms, treatment options, and prevention. If left untreated, this chronic infection can cause cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, but treatment can be effective if patients are diagnosed early enough and receive proper care. Although hepatitis B is most prevalent in Asia, the presence of a large immigrant population from Asia in the U.S. has made it a significant health issue here as well. At this time, over 10% of New York City’s population is Asian.
Tomoaki Kato, MD, Chief, Division of Abdominal Organ Transplant, and Surgical Director, Liver and Gastrointestinal Transplantation, spoke about liver surgery and the safety of liver transplantation, which is a highly successful procedure at the CLDT. Dr. Kato is one of the foremost leaders in liver and abdominal transplantation today.
Abby Siegel, MD, Medical Director of Hepatobiliary Oncology, spoke about liver cancer, bile duct and pancreatic tumors.
According to Dr. Kato, “Because of language and cultural barriers, it can be very difficult to reach first-generation immigrants to teach them about health issues such as hepatitis B and other liver diseases.”
He has found that one of the most effective ways to reach Asian immigrants is to educate their children, who tend to be well educated and fluent in English. He and his colleagues at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have developed an educational program for high school students, bringing their presentations about prevention and treatment of liver disease to New York area high schools since 2009. “If high school students are told they can be a life-saver for their family, they will tell their family about it.”
The May 7 presentation was covered by major Chinese language newspapers including the World Journal, one of the most popular in the US, and others.
Learn more about liver disease and transplantation at livermd.org.