The United States has a long history of racial discrimination present in a variety of contexts, entwined with education, income, and other socio-demographic factors. It has penetrated almost all the sectors and hasn’t even left the healthcare, which is a crucial part of every economy. Racism in medicine has continuously affected the health of African Americans and the way they receive healthcare.
In a study conducted by researchers at Northeastern University, it was found that communities of colour across the United States are disproportionately affected by both health and economic problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many U.S. birth control and insurance coverage policies harm certain populations. As a result, it has led to the loss of many Black lives.
A physician may not be a racist but, the presence of implicit bias makes him treat people differently based on colour. Racial discrimination is not the deviant behaviour of a few, but the result of continued support provided by the institutional policies. There have been many doctors, philosophers, and scientists involved in perpetuating racial inferiority stereotypes. Provision of a basic facility like healthcare should not be dependent upon the colour of skin.
This blooming issue has attracted concern from many universities. Students are compassionate about combatting racism. They are launching a series of fundraising drives to change the negative narrative around Black health issues.
Although there are several special-purpose funds reserved for deprived and marginalised groups, the issue calls for structural changes. We require increased regulatory vigilance, enhanced data systems, and appropriate training for medical professionals to address this disparity in healthcare. We should take the struggles of marginalised communities as a challenge for all of us. Both patients and providers have to end this racism and discrimination in medicine. So, let’s not be ignorant, be compassionate. Let’s not be silent observers, be the next change-makers.
– Kriti Vishwakarma