More Black doctors are neededBy Veita Bland, M.D. / October 23, 2020
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As I write this article, around 220,000 lives in the United States have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though you may be tired of hearing me say it, I must keep saying that the numbers still blow me away. They just keep climbing and climbing. There are projections from creditable prognostic models that predict we will be above 320,000 lives lost shortly into 2021 and again, remarkable and numbing numbers of predicted loss of life.
Again, these predictions continue to show the disproportionate loss of life in Black and Brown communities. Remember, Blacks only makeup 13 percent of the U.S. population and Hispanic and Latinos make up only 16.7 percent of the population. The deaths in these communities though carry a disproportionate burden. CDC’s data report that COVID-19 cases are 2.6-times higher and 4.7-times greater in incidence of hospitalizations for African Americans. The Black population has experienced a 2.1 percent higher death rate due to COVID-19 as compared to the White population. When comparing other groups, the death rate is the highest in the Black population. Please take the time to examine the data.
We know such grim statistics have to do with disproportionate chronic illnesses that are in our communities, the exposure from first line jobs, the crowded living conditions of some with prolonged exposure. We have heard that we need to improve the healthcare of our people.
Did you know that only five percent of physicians in the United States are Black? We first must make sure that we increase the representation of Black physicians in this country.
White Coats for Black Lives is a student lead organization that has a mission statement to dismantle racism in medicine and promote the health, well-being, and self-determination of Black and indigenous people and other people of color. They promote racial justice in our communities and racial justice in medical care. They hope to increase the number of Black physicians and other healthcare professionals. These are all worthy goals that we should not have to aspire to in 2020. Please check out their website at https://whitecoats4blacklives.org/.
We must get more Black physicians in the pipeline; we must make sure that more Black physicians are at the table when decisions are being made about what healthcare will look like and where it is delivered and how. We must also know that this is a worthy goal that will not happen overnight. We cannot go back to things being the way they were.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.