The Wellesley Institute has released a new report, “Colour Coded Health Care: the Impact of Race and Racism on Canadians’ Health.” The report, written by Sheryl Nestle, PhD, reviews literature and research published between 1990 and 2011 on racial inequities in the health of non-Aboriginal racialized people in Canada.
The report begins with a discussion of the concept of race and its relationship to health outcomes, followed by a discussion of the significance of racial inequities in health and the relationship of these inequities to other forms of social inequality. Mor¬tality and morbidity data for various racialized groups in Canada are examined and the role of bias, discrimination, and stereotyping in health-care delivery is explored. In addition, unequal access to medical screening, lack of adequate resources such as translation services, and new research on the physiological impact of a racist environment are also explored. The review concludes with a discussion of the limitations of available data on racial inequi¬ties in health and health care in Canada and offers recommendations related to the collection of racial data. The report states that Aboriginal health inequities were not included in this review as not to subsume under an umbrella of racial inequi¬ties in health the unique history and continuing injustice of Aboriginal health conditions in Canada.
An event held in Toronto to launch this report featured keynote speaker Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, a family physician and epidemiologist who conducts research in the area of social determinants of health and equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Jones defines racism as “a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on race.” This system unfairly provides advantages to certain individuals and groups and disadvantages to others, says Dr. Jones. Through “the Gardener’s Tale,” she uses an allegory to illustrate three levels of racism: institutionalized, personally mediated and internalized racism. Institutionalized racism is the system that results in differential access to the goods, services, and opportunities of society by race. Personally mediated racism is differential assumptions about the abilities, motives and intents of others by race and differential actions based on those assumptions. Internalized racism is acceptance by members of the stigmatized races of negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic worth. According to Dr. Jones, all three levels of racism have a direct link and impact on health.
To access the report “Colour Coded Health Care: the Impact of Race and Racism on Canadians’ Health,” visit www.wellesleyinstitute.com.
To view the video of Dr. Camara Jones’ presentation at the Wellesley Institute, visit www.wellesleyinstitute.com.