Canada’s healthcare system requires further improvement towards treating black patients
Black individuals are continuing to face disparities within the healthcare system, regardless of how universal our healthcare coverage may be
I believe the Canadian healthcare system was not designed in a way that allows for patients to be treated equally. Numerous times, it has been discussed that people of colour are not receiving adequate care compared to their European counterparts.
The black population of Canada has had a substantial history with medicine and the healthcare system. Due to this history and the means of patient advocacy, we are seeing improvements to make our healthcare system more inclusive and representative of the needs of black individuals.
A mountain of evidence has displayed a lack of health research concerning the black population. This has led to their care being inaccurate since it is based on research conducted on individuals of European descent. Instances like these have created a space for the healthcare system to make inferences on how to treat black individuals best.
For example, there is a racial bias in administering pain medication for the black population compared to their European descent counterparts. This medical practice is rooted in the belief that black individuals had a higher pain tolerance than those of European descent.
As of this, it was reported that black individuals were undertreated for pain symptoms, leading to increased chances of being denied pain medication. In addition, according to a study, black individuals are more likely to be underestimated with experienced pain despite their verbal communication of discomfort.
The aforementioned belief was so prominent in the healthcare system that it implicated individuals during childbirth. Regardless of an individual's insurance policy, the status of the admitted hospital, and other factors which may influence the presence of epidurals, black individuals are less likely to be administered an epidural before childbirth.
Not only does this policy demonstrate racial bias, but in my opinion, it also displays prominent concerns for care inequality. For example, women should not be denied epidurals during excruciating moments such as childbirth due to higher perceived pain tolerance.
According to a study investigating the relationship between race and usage of Epidural Analgesia during childbirth, "Black patients with private insurance had rates of epidural use similar to those of white/non-Hispanic patients without insurance coverage." Although these are American statistics from 2003, it demonstrates the racial disparities black individuals faced in the past.
On a positive note, the Canadian healthcare system has shown promise for improvement towards racial bias and inequality. Recently, medical textbooks have included medical illustrations of black individuals to demonstrate inclusion.
Modern medicine also recruits larger populations of black students to promote equality of opportunity and representation among healthcare staff and patients. This newfound representation provides our healthcare system with more diverse voices for social issues within this system. In addition, it may provide a better basis for black individuals to receive equal care as their providers could better relate to them.
With advocacy against the lack of research on various racialized groups, there has been an increase in medical research focusing on black individuals in recent years. The uptake of research has provided medical practitioners with a better understanding of how illness presents itself within the black population and how to treat it better.
The Canadian healthcare system has drastically improved concerning the inclusivity, representation, and treatment of the black population in medicine and health. However, I believe much improvement still needs to be done to reconcile past actions and promote equality.
Since there are already practices in place enhancing the representation of black individuals and correcting the quality of care through specified research, patient advocacy is the primary method of improving our healthcare system for black individuals.
I believe this to be true because through raising awareness on issues that impact specific communities, we have the power to implement change. In addition, by exercising patient advocacy, we can ensure that these strategies continue to support the black community within medicine.
Through showcasing prominent issues and demanding change, we can promote inclusivity, more health research conducted on black individuals and representation. With these factors, I believe we can create a further significant shift in healthcare, improving the quality of care we provide to the black community.