February is Black History Month, and the recognized theme this year is Black Health and Wellness.
Racial discrimination is a key social determinant of health and driver of racial and ethnic health inequities in the US, and abroad. The Black community experiences disproportionately higher rates of illness and death across a range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts. Additionally, the life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans (CDC).
MSIH Alumni Advancing Equitable Care
MSIH is committed to training future medical professionals to recognize and address disparities in the quality of care, and MSIH Alumni are at the forefront leading the way to make health care equitable for all. Alumna LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH (‘04), is a public health leader promoting health equity and access to healthcare for minority and under-served populations in the US.
Dr. McIver serves as the Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which provides healthcare to over 130 million Americans every year. Previously, Dr. McIver led Government Affairs & Advocacy (GA&A) efforts at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as its Vice President of Public Policy & Strategic Alliances and later as its Senior Vice President of all GA&A.
After graduating from MSIH, Dr. McIver went on to earn a Master’s Degree in public health at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her community-based coursework and experiences as a program director for the Baltimore City Health Department inspired her to advocate for health equity among diverse patient populations, and she later completed a health policy fellowship focusing on the impact of HIV and AIDS on African-Americans at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Center for Policy Analysis and Research.
Dr. McIver is a recognized spokesperson and thought leader on health disparities, healthcare reform, and diabetes advocacy issues. She is also a frequent presenter before Members of Congress, public health and health care leaders, advocates and students.
Global Health at MSIH
An integral component of the MSIH global health-focused curriculum includes four required Global Health Modules that students complete during the first two years of their studies.
As a medical school that incorporates global health into all four years of the curriculum, MSIH educates future physicians on how structural and interpersonal racism creates health inequalities and what medical professional and healthcare leaders can do to address them.
This month, MSIH has debuted a new Global Health Module – The Impact of Racism on Medicine, and alumna Dr. McIver is a distinguished guest lecturer of the course.
Some of the educational aims of the course include: learning about the impact of racism on health outcomes; racialized reproductive rights as a core component of human rights; and, the impact of racism on medical research through studies of disadvantaged populations. Additionally, students will discuss the influence of structural biases on medical practice and research.
During Dr. McIver’s recent lecture, she introduced MSIH students to the impact of racism on health outcomes for historically underserved populations in the U.S. Her lecture focused on the different types of racism, the intersection of racism and social and political determinants of health, and historical examples of how racism has influenced modern medicine.
Both inside and outside of the classroom, MSIH students actively seek opportunities to further global health knowledge and share guidance on practicing medicine and global health in a variety of contexts. The Global Health Working Group is a student organization at MSIH that creates programming and builds awareness of global health-related work and best practices.
This Black History Month, we are shedding light on addressing health inequities in the Black community. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect many minority populations (CDC), it is more important now than ever to address these issues on a global scale.