By Joel Hall
U.S. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) will host his annual, 13th Congressional District Health Fair this Saturday, from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m., at Mundy's Mill High School in Jonesboro.
For the fifth year in a row, constituents throughout the south metro area will be able to receive free health screenings, and advice from leading health-care professionals.
Congressman Scott's deputy district director, Isaac Dodoo, said this year's health fair will focus on the early detection of diabetes, breast cancer, and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
"It's bringing together area hospitals, doctors, and health-care providers to offer free health care to our constituents," Dodoo said. "We are going to do diabetes-specific blood work and HIV [testing]. We want people to bring their entire family."
Dodoo said more than 2,000 attended last year's fair, receiving medical advice and free health screenings for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sickle cell anemia. He said, among the guest speakers for this year's health fair, will be: James Gavin, a leading diabetes researcher and past president of the Morehouse School of Medicine; Rogsbert Phillips, a preeminent breast cancer surgeon; and Maurice Madden, a filmmaker and Georgia director of the Medicare Diabetes Screening Project, a national project to raise awareness about the early detection and treatment of diabetes.
Scott said the cost of health care and access to health care continue to be pressing concerns in the 13th Congressional District. He said the health fair serves as a way to deal with both issues.
"Until we can get it [the cost of health care] down, there are 147,000 in my district alone, who don't have health care," he said. "Thousands don't have it in Henry and Clayton counties. They can't even afford it. By having an annual health fair where people can get checked for everything ... that helps. Everybody that comes, gets free health care. You can't lower the cost more than that."
As the health-care debate rages in Washington, D.C., that debate has begun to surface locally. On Aug. 1, during a town hall meeting hosted by the City of Douglassville to discuss a new highway project, Scott was confronted by a member of the audience about his stance on "government-option" health care. A video of a heated exchange between Scott and the audience member has circulated on YouTube, and among local and national television networks.
Scott said that, traditionally, the forum at the annual health fair is reserved for people with questions about recent medical advances and breakthroughs. He said he would field any questions about the government's proposed health-care plan during Saturday's health fair.
"While we're also dealing with the health-care bill in Congress, this [the health fair] gives us a great opportunity for constituents to talk to us about the progress of that bill," Scott said. "There are people who want to stop the debate about health care. If they come, I will definitely abide by them. I represent everybody.
"This health-care issue is 19 percent of our economy," he added. "If we aren't doing something, not only are we doing a disservice to our citizens, the entire economy goes down. The majority of the people want something done about the high cost of health care. We have to stand our ground."
Mundy's Mill High School is located at 9652 Fayetteville Road in Jonesboro. For more information, call Congressman Scott's office at (770) 210-5073.