NCAFP Statement on Discrimination and Health Disparities

NCAFP Statement on Discrimination and Health Disparities

June 8, 2020

The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians has a long-held belief, reflected in policy, that discrimination for any reason is unacceptable. Considering recent events, it is clear that our state and nation have a long way to go before discrimination and racism have finally ended. Family physicians across North Carolina and our country are grieving with and for their communities.  Just this weekend, one of our past presidents, Dr. Karen Smith, attended the memorial service for Mr. George Floyd in his home county, Hoke County, in southeastern North Carolina. We join with all our members in speaking out against discrimination and institutional racism.  

To reiterate AAFP’s statement from last week, the NCAFP considers racism a public health crisis. The elimination of health disparities will not be achieved without first acknowledging racism’s contribution to health and social inequalities. This includes inequitable access to quality health care services. Our members see the negative health outcomes of racism in their patients who are often at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, low birth weight, premature birth, and infant mortality.  And we have seen it in the incidence of COVID-19 in minority populations in our state.  As of last week, 34 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths in North Carolina have occurred in the African American community, a significant and disproportionate number compared to the population of our state.  

The mission of our organization centers around providing our current and future members the tools to provide exceptional care to their patients and communities.  We know that social determinants of health matter.  We support family physicians in their efforts to actively dismantle implicit racist and discriminatory practices in their institutions and their communities. Here are some ways you can take action personally:

  • Challenge Bias and Racism:  If you see something, say something.  Conversations matter, even if it’s one person and one conversation at a time, whether it’s your friends, your family, or your co-workers.
  • Support Your Colleagues:  Minority physicians remain under-represented in medicine and face their own unique obstacles in the workplace.  Start by supporting them.
  • Educate Yourself:  Take some time to learn about our country’s history with racism, and the impacts that we still see today.  Even if you already know a lot, we can always learn more.  Here’s one North Carolina resource (The Racial Equity Institute) to get you started.  

The NCAFP will continue to use our organization’s platform and voice to advance the conversation and act against racial injustice.

As AAFP previously said, it is incumbent upon all of us to engage in an honest discussion about how to ensure that health outcomes and personal safety are not determined by the color of a person’s skin.  We stand ready to continue this conversation at both the local and state level.

David A. Rinehart, MD, FAAFP, President, On Behalf of the NC Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors