Written by Sellma Mahi
Healthcare services and medicine have evolved enormously in the past century. Many of the things we weren’t able to do are now routine practice. The development of medicine, however, didn’t come with an equally great awareness of social justice. Although healthcare is a human right, in our capital-oriented society health is considered a commodity and a service, hence, being treated as such. Health can and will be bought. Therefore, in today’s day and age, Health is seen less as a universal right and more as an economic good(1).
If in some countries, there are a select few that can afford healthcare and benefit from it without repercussions to their livelihood, there will inevitably be people that cannot access healthcare services. This is often seen in the United States, where due to the exorbitant prices of medical procedures or affiliated medical expenses, individuals avoid hospitals or try to minimize costs e.g. taking an Uber to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance. The poorer a person is, the greater the risk to their health. This reality coupled with harmful ideologies such as racism increase the risk to a specific population in society, namely black people who have a low socioeconomic status (2).
As an African-Italian living in London, I can’t help but ask myself what is the history of healthcare access by marginalised groups such as black people living in the Global North. From the current state of affairs, we learn that discrimination and unfairness in society have taken on more subtle forms. It shows itself in various ways. For this article, I intend to describe how it shows up in healthcare institutions such as medical school.
In Medical School and Health care institutions
Implicit bias in healthcare is not a new discussion. A study by the British Medical Journal highlighted that doctors with English names were twice as likely to be shortlisted for senior house officer jobs as those with Asian names, despite having the same experience and training… 27 years later ethnic minority doctors were still less successful than white doctors in securing speciality training posts(3). The racial bias that exists here, started long before students apply for jobs.