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Who's in CHARGE?: Etsemaye P. Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS

May 2, 2022

Who's in CHARGE? spotlights a member of the AAMC Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence (CHARGE), a forum for investigators, clinicians, and community partners who design and implement research that eliminates health and health care inequities. Today we're featuring Etsemaye Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS, Assistant Professor, Department of Health System Science at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine in Los Angeles, CA and 2021-2022 White House Fellow at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. You can meet other health equity champions like Etsemaye when you join CHARGE.

Etsemaye P. Agonafer, MD, MPH, MS

What sparked your interest in health equity or health disparities work?
My upbringing, as a first-generation Ethiopian-American who grew up in urban underserved communities in California, fuels my passion to achieve health equities for the communities that I am a product of and have continued to serve throughout my journey.

Why does health equity matter to you? Why should health equity matter to other people?
Empathy is a characteristic that is hard to develop or even teach. If only all of us could truly put ourselves in the shoes of others would we understand the impact of the inequities that exist in our society.

Why is now the right time for us all to work together on health equity?
For the individuals and communities who experience health disparities the time to work together on health equity was a long time ago. It is always the right time to see the sameness across all people and treat them equitably.

What health equity-related project are you most proud of or excited about?
The AAMC Center for Health Justice's Principles of Trustworthiness is by far one of the most unique collaborations that I have been involved in. It embodied all of my previous efforts to amplify the voices of the communities I have served to influence change in institutional approaches to addressing health disparities.

Do you have any health equity heroes?
For me the heroes have been every single patient and community who I have ever had the privilege of caring for and partnering with. It is through these individuals that I learned first hand how inequities manifest in a variety of ways, where the ailments of our society exist, and how to potentially solve them.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chocolate cake!

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