Race In Health Care

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As humans in the 21st century, we have progressed substantially with our discoveries, technologies and especially, our ideologies. From living in a simple society, we have expanded in all aspects of the human life. With modern changes, the field of medicine has also been updated quite significantly to suit the demands of the growing world. Practices used in early modern medicine, such as hirudotherapy (the use of medicinal leeches), have been dismissed as suitable cures, and have been replaced with advanced medical techniques based on a patient’s complete health record. Therefore, being a medical practitioner in today’s society is very complex, as it not only requires a thorough understanding of medicine itself, but also, the patient. One…show more content…
The division of Homo sapiens into various races has influenced many areas of the fundamental sciences. However, the implications of the concept of race have been more prevalent in modern public health systems than any other disciplines of science. The idea of race, and its potential involvement in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, has acquired significant attention from medical practitioners. Most physicians often base their prognosis for their patients using ill-defined perceptions of race, most of which have been abandoned by various specialties of the scientific world, as they limit the understanding of humans, rather than expanding our knowledge (Cooper & David, 1986). Yet, race continues to dominate modern medicine. As an example, in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approved a new pharmacogentic (race-based) drug to combat hypertension, by the name of BiDil. This drug was created exclusively for African Americans, since they are at a greater risk for heart disease (Taylor et al., 2004). The debate over the involvement of the controversial subject of race in medicine has sparked numerous issues amongst the public and health…show more content…
However, by collecting data in accordance with race, the epidemiologists are under the assumption that there are genetic differences between races that cause differences in health. Therefore, any patterns found by their studies are based on this assumption. For instance, the frequency of many diseases, including major infectious diseases, cancers, diabetes, asthma and strokes have been described to be different between races (Fein, 1995). But are the epidemiologists correct in their assumption? In a study done by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1994), where he investigated the frequencies of genes between population groups, he determined that population groups on average differ from one another by only a few polymorphic genes. Cavalli-Sforza’s team also determined that the 5% variation between individuals of different races was the same variation difference between individuals of the same race. With such a small discrepancy between individuals of similar or different races, it becomes questionable whether there is a clear correlation between race and health. And when skin colour is the principle determinant of race, the relationship between health and race further degrades. Because skin color is determined by the amounts of three chemicals whose presence is determined by genes,

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