Dr. Melissa Smith
Dr. Melissa Smith

Dr. Melissa Smith, the director of Health Equity Initiatives at UCSB, and an international advocate on women’s health issues will be the keynote speaker at the Nov. 4 Thanks for Giving luncheon, organized by Lompoc-based free medical clinic Savie Health.

Smith’s keynote speech is titled Taking Action for Women’s Health Equity: Local and Global Grassroots Strategies.

The luncheon is held to honor individuals and organizations that have contributed to Savie Health’s successful first year providing free medical care to Santa Barbara County’s uninsured population.

A family medicine physician, Smith has worked in primary care clinics in low-income communities in the U.S. and Central America for three decades. She collaborated most recently on pandemic response and health equity initiatives with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department’s clinic in Santa Maria.

In all these settings, she has also been involved in health and social justice efforts to complement her clinical work.

Smith is the lead author of “Health Actions for Women: Practical Strategies to Mobilize for Change.” The book, translated into seven languages, supports community health workers’ efforts to improve women’s health, including through advancing gender equity, promoting reproductive health, prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and prevention of gender-based violence.

At UCSB, Smith co-teaches a seminar on community-based participatory research on health disparities. She also co-founded and served as interim coordinator of the Latinx and Indigenous Migrant COVID-19 Response Task Force in Santa Barbara County from March through September 2020.

She is currently involved in efforts to promote the perinatal health of farmworkers. Smith is also associate director of the Center for Gender and Health Justice at the University of California Global Health Institute.

For information, sponsorship and tickets to the Thanks for Giving luncheon, visit https://saviehealth.org/events/.

Savie Health is at 1111 E. Ocean Ave., Ste. 2, Lompoc. For more about Savie Health’s services, or to volunteer or donate, visit saviehealth.org. For an appointment, call 805-743-4776. Hablamos Español.