American Medical Association says racism is a threat to public health

National News

(WNCN) — In June, the American Medical Association pledged to confront systemic racism and police brutality. The association has now recognized racism as a threat to public health.

The AMA released a detailed plan on how to mitigate the effects racism may have on public health.

“The AMA recognizes that racism negatively impacts and exacerbates health inequities among historically marginalized communities. Without systemic and structural-level change, health inequities will continue to exist, and the overall health of the nation will suffer,” said AMA Board Member Willarda V. Edwards, MD, MBA.

“As physicians and leaders in medicine, we are committed to optimal health for all, and are working to ensure all people and communities reach their full health potential,” Dr. Edwards said. “Declaring racism as an urgent public health threat is a step in the right direction toward advancing equity in medicine and public health, while creating pathways for truth, healing, and reconciliation.”

To that end, the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) adopted new policy to:

  • Acknowledge that, although the primary drivers of racial health inequity are systemic and structural racism, racism and unconscious bias within medical research and health care delivery have caused and continue to cause harm to marginalized communities and society as a whole.
  • Recognize racism, in its systemic, cultural, interpersonal and other forms, as a serious threat to public health, to the advancement of health equity and a barrier to appropriate medical care.
  • Support the development of policy to combat racism and its effects.
  • Encourage governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations to increase funding for research into the epidemiology of risks and damages related to racism and how to prevent or repair them.
  • Encourage the development, implementation and evaluation of undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education programs and curricula that engender greater understanding of the causes, influences, and effects of systemic, cultural, institutional and interpersonal racism, as well as how to prevent and ameliorate the health effects of racism.

In addition to promote anti-racist practices, the AMA also recognized that race is a social construct and is distinct from ethnicity, genetic ancestry or biology.

The association also supports ending the practice of using race as a proxy for biology or genetics in medical education, research and clinical practice.

The AMA says it will also encourage undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and continuing medical education programs to recognize the harmful effects of presenting race as biology in medical education.

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