How Anti-Awakening Extremists Are a Threat to Black Healthcare | News


Politics should not censor the knowledge doctors use to treat their patients. But the newest medical battlefield is censoring the social determinants of health.

Capitalizing on the culture wars over education raging across the country, anti-awakening extremists are lobbying to remove social determinants of race and health (SDoH) from medical school curricula. SDoH constitutes the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age. Race is accepted as a social determinant worth studying and understanding. Recently, extremists began lobbying state legislatures (states with few doctors) to scrap medical curricula that include social determinants.

Dr. Stanley GoldfarbThe founder of the conservative nonprofit Do No Harm is one of the most harmful extremists. A former Ivy League medical dean, his group wants state governments to spread his ideology, which calls for not only removing the social determinants of health from medical school curricula, but also eliminating diversity programs in medical schools and nursing schools. I’ve been working on it. Worse, his ideology would require every state contractor, grant recipient, medical school, and hospital to certify that it is not practicing anti-racism.

But it’s not just Professor Goldfarb suggesting the government travels back in time to a time when less black rights didn’t matter. conservative doctors Amber Colville, Ralph AlvaradoAttorneys General of Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and Montana are suing Medicare to revoke health equity incentives for blacks and browns.

As a medical researcher who teaches medical students, I know that if these lobbyists succeed, our nation’s healthcare system will be set back decades. If extremists succeed, they can endanger our health, healthcare and, in turn, our quality of life. To prevent this, we must ask state and federal legislatures to protect their control over what medical schools teach.

We don’t have to look far to see how social forces determine our health. COVID-19 has shown that our destinies are aligned. Our family’s physical and financial health is linked to the health of our neighbors and colleagues. This is because the communities we live in share many social determinants of health, which, according to the American Academy of Medicine, account for 80-90 percent of health outcomes.

Social determinants are now considered daily in clinics across the country. Imagine going for a checkup and telling your doctor that you’ve lost your job and insurance. You would expect your doctor to consider the drug’s affordability when deciding what to prescribe. Imagine going to the pediatrician to see if your child is having trouble breathing. You would expect them to know that where you live affects your child’s chances of getting asthma. When doctors ignore the social determinants of your health, they largely ignore who you are.

Race is another social determinant of health, partly because people grow, live, work, and age differently based on the racial categories others label themselves. . Ignoring race as a social fact of life is not good for anyone’s health.

For example, black patients with opiate use disorders are less likely than white patients to be given medications proven to treat their disease, and black patients are less likely to receive the help they need. Doctors may not know this unless they look at race. The long-standing pattern of structural racism, the social determinant of health, “Do No Harm,” is something doctors don’t want you to know.

Doctors who ignore race may miss why Their patients—someone’s children, parents, siblings, friends—are using opiates. We may turn a blind eye to social determinants and instead denounce those with substance use disorders as unhelpful “addicts.”

Extremists assume that medical students learning about social determinants will exclude other content from the curriculum, threatening the quality of care. But addition does not mean subtraction. Medical knowledge is increasing year by year. And, as evidenced by rising passing scores on licensing exams and competitive admissions to medical school, current residents are more capable of learning than ever before.In fact, advances in medicine, such as the social determinants of health, are helping us training medicineThis means that we are always striving for improvement.

No one wants to visit a doctor who blames, condemns, and ignores 80-90 percent of what promotes our health. So we shouldn’t train like we train future doctors. Indeed, some may claim that race does not affect their lives and seek out doctors who believe the same. But would they recommend doctors to friends and family who are ignorant of other social determinants of health, such as socioeconomic status?

Social determinants of health affect us all. To prevent anti-awakening ideologues from breaching medical school curricula, state and federal governments must protect the right of medical schools to teach the social determinants of health. If your doctor ignores them, it may be time to find a new doctor.

Dr. Michael Mensah, M.D., MPH, MHS, is a psychiatrist, health equity researcher, and Public Voices Fellow of the Yale University OpEd project. You can find him on Twitter: @DrMichaelMensah.





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