Opinion-October Health Awareness Month

In the US, Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, the life expectancy of Black babies is three fewer years than white infants, and Black people are twice as likely to die from COVID-19.

The month of October is dedicated to recognizing health struggles that many Americans face, like Breast Cancer, Domestic Violence, Disability Employment, and SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Awareness. But a focus on these issues reveals their deeper roots, and the inequality in the way patients are treated by the US healthcare system, a structure steeped in centuries of racism.

In 1932, the US Public Health Service told around 600 Black men with untreated syphilis that they would receive free medical care for a variety of ailments, refusing to tell patients their true diagnosis. In this study patients were denied treatment, despite the fact that there was a known cure for syphilis, and went blind, insane or experienced other severe health conditions due to the disease. 100 participants died from these health problems, 28 patients died from their untreated syphilis, 40 spouses contracted the disease, and it was passed onto 19 children.

Throughout the 20th century, one third of Puerto-Rican women, many citizens of Mexican descent, thousands of Native American women, and over 60,000 other non-white women were forced to be sterilized without consent. Even now, ICE is still forcing women in its facilities to undergo forced sterilizations.

These are only a few of the instances where the US healthcare system has inflicted extreme suffering on non white citizens..

“There has never been any period in American history where the health of blacks was equal to that of whites. Disparity is built into the system.” Said Evelyn Hammonds, a historian of science at Harvard University, in the 1619 project for the New York Times.

During the 1918 Spanish Flu, the rate that white people were dying at was considered extremly high, and Black people were less likely to catch the flu. But during the 1918 pandemic, the number of white people who passed away was still at a lower rate than Black mortality rates had ever been.

Now, we are in another pandemic, and the American healthcare system is still filled with racial bias, more than a century later. The structure, along with many others, has caused millions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to face extreme struggles that would not be present if the system treated them the same way it treats white people.

Dorothy Roberts, who works at the University of Pennsylvania as a professor of Africana studies, law and sociology, said, “Health inequities have literally killed thousands and thousands of Black people who would not have died if they had the death rates of white people.”

With the pandemic impacting the daily lives of Americans, many say they want to go back to normal. But if normal is accepting the extreme injustices and structural racism in the US healthcare system that have caused millions of non-white Americans to suffer, then we should not return to tolerating this. With October being dedicated to focusing on the health issues many Americans face, we need to recognize the inequality in the way these issues are treated. Although white privilege may not allow some to ignore the healthcare system that is rooted in white supremacy, we need to call out the injustice, listen to the experiences of BIPOC, and examine the discrimnation within the healthcare system and many other structures that have been tolerated for centuries.

We have the power to change these systems, and now is the time to call out the inequality that has been tolerated for so long.

Observances (National)

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Chiropractic Health Month
Dental Hygiene Month
Disability employment awareness month
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Halloween Safety Month
Health Literacy Month
Liver Awareness Month
Medical Librarians Month
Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month
Pharmacists’ Month
Physical Therapy Month
SIDS, Pregnancy, and Infant Loss Awareness Month
“Talk about your medicines” Month

Central Service Week (Oct 13-19)
Infection Prevention Week (Oct 13-19)
Nephrology Technicians/Technologists Recognition Week (Oct 13-19)
Nuclear Science Week (Oct 14-18)
Health Care Facilities and Engineering Week (Oct 20-26)
Respiratory Care Week (Oct 20-26)
Medical Assistants Recognition Week (Oct 21-25)
Red Ribbon Week (Oct 23-31)
Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 6-12)
Healthcare security and Safety Week (Oct 13-19)
Healthcare Foodservice Workers Week (Oct 6-12)
Fire prevention Week (Oct 6-12)
Emergency Nurses Week (Oct 6-12)
Case Management Week (Oct 6-12)
Physician Assistants Week (Oct 6-12)

Stop American’s Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Day (Oct 9)
Arthritis Day (world) (Oct 11)
Depression Screening Day (Oct 3)
Stuttering Awareness Day (world) (Oct 22)
Lock Your Meds Day (Oct 23)
Psoriasis Day (world) (Oct 29)
Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day (Oct 9)
Orthopaedic Nurses Day (world) (Oct 29)

October awareness: the deadliest disease of all, racism

October awareness: health issues, or inequality?

A dose of antiracism: the cure to health issues in America

The real pandemic in America: racism

The “new normal”: our “normal” is racist

The dark past of the US healthcare system

Scarier than skeletons: the racist past of the US healthcare system

The true toll of American’s racist past- October Health Awareness

Racism in America’s healthcare system

Healthy, or racist? America’s broken healthcare system

Ignorance is not bliss: America’s healthcare system

When will they see: America’s broken healthcare system

Going back to normal when our normal is racist

“normal “ in the US healthcare system

The hidden culprit: America’s flawed healthcare system

A nightmare: America’s healthcare
Unaware: what people don’t know about America’s healthcare
What you might not know about American healthcare
Discriminate, dictate, Tolerate: American healthcare

You discriminate? great! We’ll tolerate

Were you unaware? American healthcare is unfair

They abuse and discriminate, you refuse and tolerate