1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Identities, Conflict and Cohesion (2000 - 2009)

Race, Health Care and the Law: Regulating Racial Discrimination in Health Care (Draft)



Equal access to quality health care is a crucial issue facing racial minorities. The need to focus specific attention on the racism inherent in the institutions and structures of health care is overwhelming. Minorities are sicker and dying at significantly higher rates than the majority populations of their countries. Furthermore, people in developing countries are sicker than people in developed countries, and these disparities track racial lines. There are many examples of disparities in health status between ethno-racial groups. For instance, infant mortality rates are two and a half times higher for blacks, and one and a half times higher for American Indians than for white Americans; the death rate for heart disease for blacks is higher than for whites; individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups account for more than 50 per cent of all AIDS cases, although they only account for 25 per cent of the population of the United States; the prevalence of diabetes is 70 per cent higher among blacks and twice as high among Hispanics as among whites; Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of tuberculosis of any ethno-racial group; cervical cancer is nearly five times more likely among Vietnamese American women than white women.

The current health disparity issues are not isolated health system problems. In fact, health disparity is the cumulative result of both past and current forms of public policies. For instance, because of institutional racism, in general racial minorities have less education and fewer educational opportunities; minorities are disproportionately homeless and have significantly poorer housing options; and minorities disproportionately work in low-pay and high-health-risk occupations.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Jan 2001
    From: UNRISD