Black Health Care or Black Health Scare? (Part 5 of 5)
“One of the most pressing needs of the African-American patient is for culturally-sensitive care delivery. Despite major American medical and public health advancements afforded by new technologies, research, and critical changes in civil rights legislation, disturbing health disparities continue to plague African-Americans of all ages, and at every level of healthcare delivery,” so states one Internet source. In short, faces change, the treatment maintains. And some wonder why Blacks are reluctant to go to the doctor for a checkup.
The fact of the matter is, scientific racism is at heart of Black reluctance to accept invitations to seek help from the medical apparatus in these United States. To many Blacks, it’s more like governmental United Stakes, manipulated by the health scare system, poised to impale African Americans of all ages. Blacks understandably have a sense of cultural mistrust in the ruthless health scare system that they have endured throughout American history. Additionally, the fact that African Americans are underrepresented when it comes to medical research is at least in part attributable to the fact that “clinical trials” is nothing more than a code phrase for “medical experiments.”
Could this be an overstatement? Am I perhaps being melodramatic in my assessment? I think not. Note what one authoritative source says about the history of African Americans and abuse in medical research: “Unfortunately, such abuses of the Black body continued into the Reconstruction and Jim Crow Periods, culminating in the infamous mistreatment of the Tuskegee syphilis study subjects. Maltreatment persisted into the late 20th-century with unethical genetic testing /sickle cell screenings in the 1970s, eugenics-based forced sterilization of Black women in the 1970s, and recent testing of dermatological products on primarily Black inmates in Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison.”
No, this is not to discount the genuine effort on the part of medical practitioners of all races who sincerely endeavor to upgrade the care given to America’s Black citizens. God bless ‘em! But what can be done about the chronic shortage of Black doctors? What’s the remedy for the medically underserved inner-city neighborhoods that are victimized by inferior medical care? Several suggestions have been proffered. While there are no easy solutions, Dr. Rodney Hood, an African American practitioner, recommends the following:
Universal Health Care System: (1) Guarantee all citizens basic health access and coverage; Health Resources Restructuring: (1) Prioritize and re-allocate greater health resources to the specific populations with the greatest health disparities and worst health outcomes; Health Disparities Institutions: (1) Create an integrated approach with health institutes designed to find and implement best practice solutions for the elimination of health disparities through research, health policy, advocacy, education and community mobilization with both a local and national focus; Social Re-engineering: (1) Establish a livable minimum wage; (2) Government and private sector jobs for qualified low income citizens; (3) Adequate and affordable housing for low income citizens; (4) Economic diversity in schools to improve education disparities; (5) Increase workforce diversity; (6) Increase underrepresented minorities in the health professions.
Whether one agrees with Dr. Hood’s overall assessment or not, one thing is clear: something needs to be done. Next week, “What Happens When We Die?”
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at (800) 501-2713 or email