From Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine:

Professor Visits White House for AANHPI Celebration

Dr. Ngo-Metzger, member of President’s Advisory Commission Health Equity Subcommittee, meets with President and First Lady

May 18, 2022

Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger at the White House.

On May 17, Quyen Ngo-Metzger, MD, MPH, KPSOM Professor of Health Systems Science, attended a reception at the White House in recognition of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. The invitation to meet with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was extended to Dr. Ngo-Metzger following her recent appointment as a voting member of the Health Equity Subcommittee of the President’s Advisory Commission. In this role, Dr. Ngo-Metzger helps craft recommendations to President Biden on ways to advance health equity for AANHPI communities.

“It is very important to me to be part of the President’s Advisory Commission because I have been working to address health disparities in AANHPI communities for over two decades,” said Dr. Ngo-Metzger. “I conducted the first national study to look at the quality of healthcare delivered to limited-English proficient Asian Americans almost 20 years ago. Some health inequities have improved but other health problems have worsened. It is crucial that we address the current health inequities, especially more recent problems related to COVID-19.” 

Dr. Ngo-Metzger has more than a decade of leadership experience with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She plans to use her previous governmental experience to help the subcommittee engage stakeholders in the federal agencies while achieving key goals.

Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger speaks with Vice President Kamala Harris.

At the April 21 meeting, the subcommittee prioritized particular issues for the President and his administration to address, such as improving access to mental health services, COVID vaccinations, and home- and community-based services for older adults and those with disabilities. The subcommittee also advised the administration to prioritize anti-Asian hate crimes and gender-based exploitation of AANHPI women.

Dr. Ngo-Metzger said she wants to bring more attention to the lack of accurate information and disaggregated data available on the varied subgroups within AANHPI communities. 

“I care deeply about the health issues that I have encountered as a primary care provider of AANHPI patients,” she said. “Often, all the groups are lumped together, and the data does not give an accurate picture of health disparities. For example, Vietnamese Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of mental distress compared to other groups. In California, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders were three times more likely to get COVID-19 and almost twice as likely to die from it compared to Whites. U.S. data that lump all these different AANHPI groups together fail to show the disparities that exist. It is important to have disaggregated data.”

As a Vietnam War refugee who came to the U.S. at age eight, Dr. Ngo-Metzger explained that she is happy that this administration values the health and well-being of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. She added, “We contribute a lot to this country and, oftentimes, there has not been adequate recognition of the health inequities that exist among the most vulnerable members of our communities. This visit shows that the White House recognizes the importance of AANHPI [people] and I am honored to represent this community.”