Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Enough Is Enough: It is time to Unite for Equity

October 22, 2020 · 1 Comment · BLM, Uncategorized

I live in a country that proclaims itself as “free.” I live in a country that people consider to be “one of the greatest.” I live in a country that attracts people from all over who are seeking equal employment opportunities regardless of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. I live in a country that claims to be united, but is severely divided. I live in a country that is struggling to come together to become a place where people can gather in peace regardless of the color of their skin. I live in the United States, where the pot of racial injustices, discrimination, and disparities in heath and other aspects has finally boiled to the surface. Now that the contents have spilled over, what can we do to make up for hundreds of years of suffering?

The Call for Health Equity, Especially During COVID-19 - Softheon

Racism, racial injustices, discrimination, racial disparities, and inequalities have been present in our country for hundreds of years. Systemic racism involves the discrimination by an institution in which they offer white persons more opportunities and access over colored people, causing large discrepancies and disadvantages in their system. In many ways, our country has evolved from the segregated land we once were, however, if you dig deeper, it is easy to see the issues that lie just beneath the surface in regards to racial injustices in our country. There are many areas that can be analyzed for the presence of racist implications, however one of the most important ones that has been rapidly grasping the attention of the general population, involves the public health arena.

Public health is known to be the “science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities” (CDC Foundation, 2020). It helps to educate our population about how to promote healthy lifestyles, the environmental aspects that contribute to health outcomes, different research studies on communicable and non-communicable diseases, and preventative strategies proven to decrease the risk of Public Health Nursingdeveloping certain chronic diseases. When people think of public health, they think of doctors, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and policy makers that are trusted with the responsibility of their care. These professionals are given the duty of providing equitable opportunities for sustainable and healthy lifestyles for all people living in this country. More importantly, they are heavily relied upon in the event that a person is found to have developed a chronic disease. We put our trust in these people with the hopes that they will honor the commitments they made to every single person under their care. Now, imagine if some of those people who are in charge of caring for you decide to judge you based on something you cannot control. Imagine that you are not getting the same care that everyone else is getting because of the color of your skin. Well, for far too many people in our country, they do not have to imagine the consequences of these scenarios. For far too many people of ethnic and racial diversity, they do not have to imagine these consequences because they have witnessed them. This, unfortunately, is the reality of the world we have been living in for far too many years and people are finally speaking out to claim the rights they deserve.

Before recent public health events can be mentioned, I believe it is important to point out scenarios in which racial injustices have occurred in the past within the public health realm. One of the most notable injustices against colored men occurred in 1932 is known to be the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. In this study, researchers had told 600 black men that they were being treated for “bad blood,” without fully informing the participants of the exact procedures they would be consenting to. This study prolonged for 40 years before the Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs called for a review of the study, ultimately discovering that these men were not given treatment for their syphilis, even after a vaccine was created, and it was proven that there was a lack of informed consent given by these participants. This study was proven to be largely unethical and remains to be a point of contention for African Americans seeking healthcare today. As the presence of distrust is already prevalent in the African American community when it comes to healthcare, these notions have only grown in conviction as more evidence portraying discrimination in SaludTues Tweetchat 7/14: How Coronavirus Can Affect Young Latinos | Salud Americaother areas of public health have continuously been brought to the surface. Many different research studies have been conducted evaluating the prevalence of different diseases, many in which it was found that those who identified as a racial or ethnic minority were more at risk for developing a chronic disease than those who identified as white. It has been proven time and time again that African American people are more susceptible to developing and dying from chronic diseases. These facts raise a lot of questions about how our healthcare system is treating patients of color. According to the graph below created by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it was discovered that African Americans have the highest death rates from heart disease, cancer, and diabetes in the United States. In addition to previous research on chronic diseases, it has also been brought to attention that the majority of lives lost or effected by the COVID-19 pandemic have consisted of racial and ethnic minorities. Although many argue that genetics play a large role in the outcome of these diseases, it is difficult to fully point the finger at genetic predispositions to these diseases.  It is difficult to blame the high mortality rates of these diseases in ethnic and racial minorities on “losing the genetic lottery.” 

Health Disparities Examples

Today, these populations have finally had enough. Many people in the United States and other countries are fed up with the long history of discrimination and are starting to fight back. These people who have been beat down and have been suffering in silence for years are finally getting the opportunity to fight for the rights that they deserve. It is unacceptable that the majority of people who live in poverty consist of racial and ethnic minorities. It is unacceptable that people of color of dying from acts of violence and brutality because of the color of their skin. It is unacceptable that there is a level of distrust in the hands of those meant to care for all when they are at their weakest. It is unacceptable that people of color of all ages are afraid to leave their homes for fear that they may not get to come back to it. Movements such as Black Lives Matter have taken the forefront of public attention, creating awareness for these populations, and asking for others to join them in the fight for their rights. They are taking back their power from a system of corruption, racial injustices, and discrimination. It is imperative now more than ever to join these populations in fighting for equality, so that we can live in a country that is truly united, right, and just. 

BLM to counter sheriffs' proposals in Cortland rally – Cortland Standard


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