Health Highlights: May 12, 2021

By on May 12, 2021

American Medical Association Vows to Confront Racism Among Doctors

The AMA has released a plan on Tuesday to confront structural racism inside the organization and the entire U.S. medical establishment.

The plan has been in the works for over a year. The plan has taken on urgency as the pandemic has highlighted health inequities, police brutality and race-based crimes, the Associated Press reported.

“We’re working very hard at AMA to increase not just diversity in the health care workforce but in understanding of health inequities,” Dr. Gerald Harmon, who becomes AMA president next month, told the AP.

Everyone deserves equal health care and it’s known that people of color “do better when their health care is delivered by providers of color,” Harmin added.

U.S. doctors are overwhelmingly white and AMA membership tends to reflect that. Most of its 21 trustees are white. With about 270,000 members, the AMA represents a little more than 25% of U.S. doctors. The plan calls for diversifying its staff and adding members who are Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and LGBTQ, the AP reported.

“We’re going to be holding ourselves accountable,” Dr. Aletha Maybank, AMA’s chief health equity officer, told the AP.

The AMA has acknowledged its racist history, including efforts to bar Black physicians from joining and fighting desegregating hospitals, the AP said. Last November, the association declared racism a public health threat.

Dr. David Ansell, a senior vice president for community health equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, told the AP that the plan was “a landmark document.”

“It really should be taught widely across medicine because it’s language that has not been central to the organization or the practice of medicine in the United States and needs to be,” Ansell said.

Dr. Brittani James, an antiracism activist from Chicago, told the AP that the AMA plan is “a great first step.”

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