The American Medical Association has recognized racism as a threat to public health. Noting that systemic discrimination and its effects can lead to a number of negative health outcomes for marginalized Americans, the largest association of physicians in the US called the persistence of racism a crisis.
“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,” AMA Board Member Willarda V. Edwards shared in a statement.
Edwards went on to say that doctors' commitment to "optimal health for all" committed the organization to calling out the public health effects of racism.
“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,” she said.
Internally, the AMA urged doctors and physicians to look into the ways that racism may have effected the administration of care. They acknowledged 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." The organization committed themselves to promoting policy that will mitigate the effects of systemic racism and pushed for a curriculum that would teach aspiring doctors to examine their own biases.
In addition to their broad proclamations on racism and the healthcare sector, the AMA also specifically called out police brutality as a threat to the health of marginalized Americans.
“The data make clear that police brutality – one manifestation of systemic racism – has significant public health consequences for impacted communities, particularly among the Black community,” said AMA Board Member Willie Underwood III. “The AMA is dedicated to actively working on dismantling racist policies and practices across all of health care, and we call on stakeholders to make systemic changes to protect public health and combat the detrimental effects that racism and communal violence have on the health of the nation.”
Head here to read the full statement.