OPINION: Studies now show that up to 14.4% of people who recover from COVID-19 have been diagnosed with diabetes
Since the president Joe BidenApril 28 address to a joint session of Congress and Sen. Tim ScottAs a counter-argument, there has been a debate about whether America is racist. The president has said Americans are not racist, but recognized black Americans are behind the “eight ball”.
Vice president Kamala Harris also repeated the sentiment, noting that she did not think America was racist, as did Sen. Lindsay Graham and other.
The real test of whether the nation is racist is revealed in data. We know from research that there is no facet of American life that has not been touched by systemic racism, from policing to education and banking to our highway system. Medicine is not immune either. Today, around 67% of doctors said they had some level of bias toward African Americans.
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Racism is not only widespread, but also persistent. We see this clearly in our healthcare system, where a third of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are black. In fact, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Called racism, is a serious public health problem that adversely affects the health of millions of Americans.
We need look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Black Americans to find that systemic racism is alive among the indigenous, black and Pacific islanders of the United States, with the highest death toll from COVID-19 . These populations were also less likely to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Walensky also recognized the disproportionate suffering of the color communities due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of people with COVID-19, the number of people who are more likely to die, and the number of people who are least likely to receive the vaccine are all black.
The story goes on
And while we know that COVID-19 was fatal to all and catastrophic to some, what we don’t know about it is terrifying. For example, studies now show that up to 14.4% of people who recover from COVID-19 have been diagnosed with diabetes. This is a double blow to black Americans who are already at increased risk for both diseases.
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In addition, most black people know someone who has suffered or has died from complications related to diabetes. The American Diabetes Association found that 4.9 million non-Hispanic African Americans who are 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes. And when blacks are diagnosed with diabetes, they suffer from additional complications.
The American Diabetes Association also notes that “Diabetic retinopathy is 46 percent more common in African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites, and African Americans are at least 2.6 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease due to diabetes than Caucasians.”
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It is imperative that we prioritize research and products that not only help this community deal with diabetes, but other healthcare challenges as well. When Freddie Figgers FiggHealth, he did so because he was personally affected by the disease, because his father had diabetes. Every diabetes product his company offers, from glucometers to technology that virtually connects doctors and patients, has been designed with the intent to break down barriers to health care for those who have long been deprived of poverty and racism.
Innovations driven by both our present reality and our imaginary future are the only way to make change in this country. Similarly, when government officials think about future aid packages, they need to acknowledge data on racism in this country, not hopes.
Hundreds of doctors, nurses and medics come together to protest the police brutality and the death of George Floyd on June 5, 2020 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images)
We know from research that the total income of black Americans in 2018 was around 42% lower than that of white Americans. The data also shows that black families are twice as likely to live in poverty as white families, and black people applying for mortgages are more likely than any other race to deny their home loans. In addition, black Americans are twice as likely to have no health insurance coverage as white Americans. Business Insider selected 26 charts highlighting this and other information about systemic racism.
We cannot face health inequalities if we are not honest about the racism that is ingrained in US institutions and, unfortunately, in people. The recognition of systemic racism is a sober recognition of what is and not what we hope for. Only by being honest about where we are can we work out plans that will enable us to move beyond our present state.
For example, 49% of Americans get health insurance from their workplace. In a year when African Americans have been hard hit by COVID-19 and significant numbers of women have left the workforce, there needs to be a plan to insure these communities.
From a political point of view, we need to get universal health insurance so that people who cannot afford their employer’s health insurance plan, or people who are unemployed, are not further harmed by lack of access to quality care. Our aid packages must address the ugly truths to create a fairer future.
That’s what we’re fighting for. The question is who is with us?
Nina Turner is a former Ohio State Senator and current candidate for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District.
Freddie Figgers x theGrio
Freddie Figgers is the entrepreneur and founder of FiggHealth. He also owns and operates the country’s only black-owned cell phone service, Figgers Communications.
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