Women’s History Month – Strides for a Brighter Future: Dr. Suzanne Afflalo

National Women’s History Month is all about recognizing and acknowledging the women in our communities who are working hard to change women’s lives for the better. Dr. Suzanne Afflalo is that person to the small team of Susan G. Komen San Diego.

As San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole has said: “We have witnessed Dr. Afflalo leading health fairs, screening for blood pressure control in barber shops and serving as a mentor for young women and men interested in health careers.  She has also launched ‘A Healthier Me’, an innovative approach to improve health behaviors.” 

Dr. Afflalo retired in 2015 from Kaiser Permanente after 23 years of service. But she did not retire from her passionate work to improve the health and wellness of the African American community of San Diego.

Not only has she been instrumental in Susan G. Komen’s Circle of Promise African American Breast Health Initiative, she has created – and runs – an innovative healthy-living, lifestyle change program called “A Healthier Me.”  The program incorporates group exercise activities, health education and diet and nutrition tips aimed at extending the fellowship that starts in church through the rest of the week.

“A Healthier Me” meticulously tracks the progress of its participants, noting their blood pressure and weight each time they attend the program’s activities. Participants have lost a combined 703 pounds from 2014 to 2016, according to the program. During that span, about half of the worshipers who had elevated blood pressure when they started participating, went on to achieve normal readings.

At first, the program recorded those statistics on paper. Now, thanks to her partnership with a local information technology consultant Tony Broyld, they have created both a customized tracker and a health application for smartphones and tablet computers.

Dr. Afflalo received her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C. and completed her family-medicine residency at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles. Dr. Afflalo has received multiple awards such as the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Family Physician of the Year (2008), and more recently the National Black Police Association’s Community Outreach Award. Dr. Afflalo is currently a board member of the SDBHA (San Diego Black Health Associates) which allows her to work directly in the community doing health education, health screening and outreach. She also serves on the Southeastern San Diego Community Advisory Committee, which provides an opportunity to develop and promote culturally appropriate health policies that improve the overall health of our local community. She recently partnered with UAAMAC (United African American Ministerial Action Council) to work with 20 Faith Based Organizations (FBO’s), teaching them how to use the “A Healthier Me” tracker to gather blood pressure data at each of their churches or organizations.