Racism is a Public Health Issue

Several leading medical organizations have said racism is a public health issue and that police brutality must stop.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians made their comments in the wake of the May 25 murder of Floyd George, who was murdered while in the custody of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police.

The American Academy of Pediatrics posted on its Twitter feed Sunday night linking the impact of racism on child and adolescent health.

“AAP condemns violence, especially when perpetrated by authorities, and calls for a deep examination of how to improve the role of policing,” the academy tweeted. Systemic violence requires systemic response.”

The American Medical Association also released a joint statement from Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld, its board chair, and Dr. Patrice Harris, the organization’s president.

“AMA policy recognizes that physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public, particularly among black and brown communities where these incidents are more prevalent and pervasive, is a critical determinant of health and supports research into public health consequences of these violent interactions,” Harris and Ehrenfeld said in a joint statement.

The two added: “Racism as a driver of health equity is particularly evident in findings from a 2018 study showing that law enforcement-involved deaths of unarmed black individuals were associated with adverse mental health among black American adults—a spillover effect on the population, regardless of whether the individual affected had a personal relationship with victim or the incidents was experience vicariously.”

The American College of Physicians wrote that it is gravely concerned about discrimination and violence against communities of color, whether by the police or private individuals.”

Several studies suggest that racism or discrimination raise the risk of emotional and physical health problems, including depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension —more than 40 percent of black adults have high blood pressure—and even death.

Floyd suffered from coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

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