June 2022 Champion

Jerry P Abraham, MD MPH CMQ 

Dr. Jerry Abraham has dedicated his career to healthcare access and health equity.

From his work in community-based primary care to his advocacy at the highest rungs of organized medicine, he is motivated by a strong sense of justice and a vision for a world where all people can thrive. Last year, he was dubbed the “Dr. Fauci of South L.A.” for his tireless work in breaking down barriers to vaccine access in communities overlooked by federal distribution. 

When Dr. Abraham first connected with fellow California physician Dr. Ashley McClure, he was moved by her moral clarity and commitment to leaving a stable climate for her children and community. They met through the California Medical Association. Dr. Abraham was a long-time leader in organized medicine and Ashley was a newcomer with a strong vision: it was time for the medical community, specifically the American Medical Association, to put its weight behind climate action. 

Dr. Abraham was with her one hundred percent. It was clear to him that climate change was the most pressing existential crisis of our time, threatening all he works for in health equity and access.

“As someone who has always been focused on racial justice and overcoming health disparities, I knew climate change was about so much more than polar bears and melting ice-caps…communities in L.A. are living the health consequences of fossil fuel pollution and the impacts of climate change every day.”

That was in 2019. Fast forward to June 2022, a resolution co-authored by Dr. Jerry Abraham and Dr. Ashely McClure passed on the floor of the AMA House of Delegates declaring climate change a public health crisis and committing to take action to limit U.S. emissions and support the rapid implementation of clean energy and “significant investments in climate resilience through a climate justice lens.” The AMA also committed to developing a strategic plan for how they will enact this new advocacy priority. 

Dr. Abraham encourages his fellow physicians to work toward similar commitments across organized medicine. “It’s so important that we get involved within our societies – at the county, state, and federal levels – we can and need to pivot our advocacy resources to address the climate crisis.” 

His advice to others organizing the medical community on climate justice?
“Be persistent, don’t give up. There were people who said we would never get this passed, they made it sound like we were the minority, but in the end, 90 percent of people voted with us.”