Our mission is to improve the quality of life for BIPOC who are affected by IBD, Digestive Disorders and associated Chronic Illnesses; through Community, Research, Education, and Advocacy.

Advocacy Focus

Color of Gastrointestinal Illnesses (COGI) is a national patient advocacy organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for BIPOC who are affected by IBD, digestive disorders, and associated chronic illnesses; through community engagement, research, education, and advocacy.


Advocacy is central to COGI’s mission and purpose, and the patient voice expressed by our community is integral to our advocacy success.


COGI amplifies the patient voice through the powerful stories of individuals and the collective needs of our community. Our advocacy ambassadors work at the local, regional, and national level to promote equitable access to affordable, quality health care for people with digestive diseases and related chronic illnesses.


Our advocacy team identifies state and federal opportunities to address on behalf of people of color who live with digestive diseases. In conjunction with fellow stakeholders, we develop position statements that our advocates can take into meetings with policymakers. We work with various stakeholders — including policymakers and government officials, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other patient advocacy organizations — to spread awareness about the day-to-day challenges of living with digestive illnesses and advocate on behalf of policy changes that eliminate barriers for access to care


To maximize our impact, we participate in multiple coalitions with other patient advocacy groups relating to a variety of important health care policy issues at the federal and state levels.

Health Equity Agenda

Advocating For Health Equity / Addressing Health Disparities In Digestive Diseases

COGI joins other organizations representing diverse communities in a shared belief that the state of healthcare for underserved communities truly reflects the health and wellness of a diverse nation. The BIPOC community that COGI represents has largely been excluded and underrepresented in the healthcare policymaking process. This lack of inclusion reflects the reality of our healthcare system that diverse communities are less likely to receive quality care and more likely to face poorer health outcomes.

As an organization committed to achieving health equity for all, we are working with policymakers in Congress and in state legislatures across the nation to ensure that all people have the opportunity to attain their full health potential.

Our focus in the health equity space is to highlight practices and advocate for policies that can eliminate health outcome disparities, ensure equitable treatment, and expand access to providers and health systems for people of color.

We are advocating in Congress to pass legislation that directly targets the factors that underlie health inequities. Bridging the health equity gap must be prioritized at the highest level.

COGI enthusiastically supports policies that aim to eliminate existing access barriers to affordable health insurance coverage, promote investments in innovative health care delivery methods and technologies, and advance diversity in clinical trials, as well as other research and data collection about the health needs and outcomes of our communities. These are all important steps towards eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, and creating a sustainable health care system that can pave the road to health equity.

We need your voice.

Start making a difference today so that we can continue to improve the quality of life for patients with digestive diseases and improve access to care and research funding. Become an advocate today through COGI Membership!

Access and Utilization

In the interest of supporting high-value, high-quality care, COGI supports policies that promote full access to the most appropriate drug regimens at the most appropriate time for patients with IBD and related illness. We understand and share concerns about cost and support efforts to ensure appropriate use of IBD therapies. Any strategies to address cost, however, must first protect patient access to the most appropriate therapy for treatment of their disease, as determined by their physician.


Obesity & Nutrition

Several factors can play a role in gaining and retaining excess weight – environmental factors, genetics, diet, and lack of exercise. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.


Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer disproportionately impacts communities of color. Black individuals have the highest incidence and mortality and face lower survival than white individuals. American Indian/Alaskan Natives also have elevated rates and deaths compared to the general population and represent the only racial/ethnic group for whom colorectal cancer mortality rates are not declining. Racial and ethnic minorities are also more likely than white individuals to present with late-stage, incurable disease.


Mental Health

People of Color are less likely to receive mental health services compared to those who are white. From 2008-2012, among adults with any mental illness, 46.3% of white adults received mental health services, compared with 41.6% of American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) adults, 30% of Black adults, 27% of Hispanic adults and 18.1% of Asian adults. The Surgeon General’s landmark report on mental health concluded that when racial and ethnic minority individuals are able to receive mental health care, it is more likely to be poor in quality.

Lack of health insurance is a significant factor affecting access to mental health treatment, and many factors contribute to the fact that people of color are more likely to be uninsured. In 2018, Black people were 1.5 times more likely to be uninsured; Hispanic people were 2.5 times more likely be uninsured; and AIAN people were 2.9 times more likely to be uninsured compared to white people.

Stigma is another factor that impacts access to mental health treatment, and many studies have shown that stigma around mental illness is higher among communities of color.

Our advocacy focus is on:

  • Increasing Access to Care
  • Proper Coding in ICD-10 Z Codes to advance the needs of mental health symptoms when SDOH is a determining factor outside of typical disorders/diagnosis
  • Improving Youth Mental Health


Celiac Disease

Researchers have recently established a clear connection between IBD and celiac disease. Indeed, a recently published study has found a ninefold increased risk of having IBD in patients previously diagnosed with celiac disease. COGI supports increased funding for NIH for the study of celiac disease which will help determine causation , find treatment alternatives to a gluten-free diet, and hopefully, ultimately cure celiac disease.

Moreover, research on celiac disease reveals racial disparities in healthcare for people of color. Based on the available data, the African American community in the U.S. needs more attention from the celiac community, and COGI is working to facilitate and promote that collaboration. COGI also is working to provide additional social support, improved medical attention and additional research.

Diversity in Clinical Trials

The importance of minority participation in clinical trials

Participants in clinical trials should represent the patients that will use the medical products. This is often not the case–racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented in clinical research.

This is a concern because people of different ages, races, and ethnicities, may react differently to medical products. We are committed to working with companies to change this. Joining a clinical trial might be a good choice for you if:

You and your doctor believe current treatments aren’t good options and a clinical trial offers additional alternatives.
You want to help ensure that the benefits and risks of new medical products are studied in the range of patients likely to need them.

You want to help researchers find better ways to fight diseases.

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