Project aims to address systemic drivers of inequities in health that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and improve long-term health outcomes in communities of color

VIENNA, VA, OCT. 27, 2020 – As part of Respiratory Care Week, the Allergy & Asthma Network (AAN) and partners Sanofi and Self Care Catalysts will launch Not One More Life Trusted Messengers, a holistic project built on trust to address health inequities, increase access to important health information and screenings for people of color and improve long-term health outcomes, especially for those with respiratory conditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed health disparities and interconnected, systemic barriers faced by people of color, as evidenced by the disproportionate infection and death rates in these communities. These disparities can be observed at all ages, but are especially prevalent in younger age groups. Among those aged 45-54, Black and Hispanic/Latino death rates are at least six times higher than whites.[1]

To address this need, the Trusted Messengers project mobilizes leaders from the community, health advocacy and pharmaceutical organizations to drive community engagement, expand health care access and accelerate digital innovation in order to correct disparities in health that go well beyond COVID-19.

AAN piloted the Trusted Messengers project model in Atlanta, hosting two community screening events on September 19 and 26. “Hundreds of patients in Atlanta were screened for COVID-19, asthma, COPD and were able to consult with healthcare professionals,” said Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta. “It’s encouraging to see people coming out and getting tested, and to know that the Trusted Messengers project will continue to help them throughout their health journey.” In addition to easy access to testing, the Trusted Messengers project also includes a follow up intervention program, which includes 16 weeks of digital check ins to help patients move from their initial screening through the continuum of care.

Using predictive analytics and weather trends to identify future COVID-19 hot spots, Trusted Messengers will expand to additional cities in the coming year, partnering with trusted local leaders to reach communities with valuable health information and increase access to screenings for those who are at greater risk from COVID-19. Cities under consideration include Chicago, Nashville, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Bronx, Oakland and more.

“Interconnected systemic inequities – such as housing, job types, levels of education, etc. – negatively impact the health of people of color,” said Tonya Winders, CEO of AAN. “There is an urgent need to act fast and act now, but the work we have to do to correct disparities in health goes well beyond COVID-19. It takes time to change systems, so in addition to taking action now, we must commit to long-term approaches that result in meaningful impact and the reduction of disparities.”

This Trusted Messengers project was informed by focused conversations with the medical community, including leading allergists, pulmonologists and Black American physicians on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trusted Messengers project aims to restore trust and empower individuals to take charge of their health through three strategic pillars:

  • Drive Community Engagement: Empowering people to make lifestyle changes and adopt healthy behaviors through education.
  • Expand Health Care Access: Addressing complex barriers to care for at-risk patients with COVID-19 and chronic illnesses.
  • Accelerate Digital Innovation: Translating insights from patient data into personalized solutions, through a secure digital platform.

“We understand the challenges for the underserved and underrepresented in the areas of health, education and access to critical community needs,” said Diana Blankman Roberts, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and President of Sanofi Cares North America at Sanofi. “The Trusted Messengers project is meeting an urgent unmet need for Black Americans, and we are looking forward to continuing to support AAN to focus on some of the barriers in the areas of health equity.”

Through the project, a digital respiratory ecosystem will serve as a central hub for all educational content, assets, information (about the project, health disparities and respiratory issues) to equip people with the information they need to manage their health.

“Self Care Catalysts’ involvement as the Lead Digital Partner for the Trusted Messengers project is testament to the significance of leveraging technology and science as enablers to bring stakeholders together to support community-driven healthcare,” said Grace Castillo-Soyao, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Self Care Catalysts. “The impact of COVID19 among people suffering from Allergy, Asthma and COPD requires long term, real world, real time monitoring to continue to uncover how it will affect the quality of lives of people in the community.”

Nano Air Mask, a 100% minority owned business based in New York City, helped to kick off the Trusted Messengers project by donating the highest quality FDA cleared masks for people who either tested positive for COVID-19 or are considered to be at high risk. “We are honored to partner with the Allergy & Asthma Network and Sanofi to help slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly within communities of color which are disproportionately being impacted by this once in a lifetime pandemic,” said Jonathan Malveaux, co-founder of Nano Air Mask.

Allergy & Asthma Network’s Not One More Life Trusted Messengers project aims to address health inequities and increase access to important health information and screenings for those who are at greater risk from COVID-19. This project is made possible through funding from the global biopharmaceutical company Sanofi. 

Not One More Life and Health Disparities

COVID-19 data reveals the virus has been devastating to communities of color. Black Americans in particular account for an alarmingly high rate of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black Americans are 2.1 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than Caucasians.

In addition, Black Americans face significantly higher rates of emergency department visits and deaths due to asthma. Factors for these disparities include air pollution in urban areas, lack of housing, stable income and inability to access quality and affordable healthcare.

Not One More Life was originally founded in 2003 by Atlanta-based pediatric pulmonologist LeRoy Graham, MD. Not One More Life, which merged with Allergy & Asthma Network in 2019, sends doctors, nurses, asthma educators and respiratory therapists to predominantly Black churches to provide asthma screenings and patient education.

“By partnering with churches in Black American communities, we are bringing quality healthcare to where it is needed most,” Dr. Graham says. “We are giving patients and families the knowledge they need – from trusted, credible sources – to make informed healthcare decisions. Research shows 90% of participants at Not One More Life’s asthma screenings report seeing a doctor after the initial screening.”

The Not One More Life Trusted Messengers project will be expanded to additional U.S. cities in 2021 and beyond.

For more information about the Atlanta health screenings, please call Allergy & Asthma Network at 800-878-4403 or visit www.TrustedMessengers.org.

About Allergy & Asthma Network

Allergy & Asthma Network is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions, especially for those among at-risk and underserved populations. The Network advances its mission through community outreach, educational initiatives that include sharing practical, medically accurate information through its publications and digital platforms, patient advocacy on national, state and local levels, and research that supports new treatments.

About Self Care Catalysts

Self Care Catalysts is a patient-centered digital therapeutics, intelligence and analytics company that puts the patient at the center of human networks, technology and science, deriving value from real-world evidence to inform clinical care, product life cycle management and behavior change interventions. The company will be managing the digital intervention for individuals who are screened through the Trusted Messengers project

About Sanofi

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. They are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. The company prevents illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. They stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.

Contact:

Gary Fitzgerald
Allergy & Asthma Network
703-641-9595
gfitzgerald@allergyasthmanetwork.org


[1] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/06/16/race-gaps-in-covid-19-deaths-are-even-bigger-than-they-appear/

Photo of trusted messengers event