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American Medical Association recognizes racism as public health threat

American Medical Association recognizes racism as public health threat
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The American Medical Association (AMA) this week recognized racism as a “serious threat to public health,” and adopted new policies aimed at tackling its impact on health care and medical research. 

The organization said racism within medical research and health care deliveries has harmed marginalized communities, and poses a barrier to appropriate medical care. 

“The AMA recognizes that racism negatively impacts and exacerbates health inequities among historically marginalized communities,” AMA board member Willarda Edwards said in a statement. “Without systemic and structural-level change, health inequities will continue to exist, and the overall health of the nation will suffer.” 

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The AMA’s House of Delegates adopted policies on Monday to recognize race as a social construct that is different from ethnicity, genetic ancestry or biology. It also supports ending using race as a proxy for biology in medical education, research and clinical practice.  

The delegates also adopted measures aimed at ending “racial essentialism,” the idea that belief in a genetic or biological essence defines everyone in a race. 

In a related move, the delegates also adopted a policy recognizing police brutality as a “manifestation of structural racism” that disproportionately impacts people of color. It adopted policies tackling police reform, including working on an effort to tackle the use of excessive force and advocate for anti-bias training by law enforcement. 

The AMA in June in the midst of protests against police killings of unarmed African Americans had pledged to address the impact of racism and police brutality in health care.