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American Medical Association Declares Racism A Public Health Threat

The American Medical Association also adopted new policies meant to “prevent and ameliorate the health effects of racism.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) has recognized racism as a public health threat. The organization’s website released a report making the declaration on November 16.

“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, MD, MBA, said.

“As physicians and leaders in medicine, we are committed to optimal health for all, and are working to ensure all people and communities reach their full health potential,” Edwards added. “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.”

Along with the announcement, the AMA shared a new policy meant to “prevent and ameliorate the health effects of racism,” including: recognizing racism “in its systemic, cultural, interpersonal and other forms, as a serious threat to public health, to the advancement of health equity and a barrier to appropriate medical care,” and encouraging “governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations to increase funding for research into the epidemiology of risks and damages related to racism and how to prevent or repair them.”

The organization also said that it will recognize race as a social construct that is “distinct from ethnicity, genetic ancestry or biology.”

“The AMA is dedicated to dismantling racist and discriminatory policies and practices across all of health care, and that includes the way we define race in medicine,” AMA Board Member Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, said. “We believe it is not sufficient for medicine to be nonracist, which is why the AMA is committed to pushing for a shift in thinking from race as a biological risk factor to a deeper understanding of racism as a determinant of health.”

The news follows the AMA’s pledge to confront systemic racism and police bruality, which the organization made back in June.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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