On May 31, 2020, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) issued a statement attributed to AAFP President Gary L. LeRoy, MD, of Dayton, OH, relative to racism being a public health crisis. The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians strongly supports Dr. LeRoy’s statement referenced below:
“The American Academy of Family Physicians is deeply concerned about the prevalence of discriminatory and racist acts that are resulting in the unwarranted deaths and marginalization of people of color. Family physicians across the nation are grieving with and for their communities, and we join with our members in speaking out against all forms of institutional racism. What is happening in our communities today, and what has been happening in our country for decades, is unacceptable.
“As a health care organization, the AAFP considers racism a public health crisis. The elimination of health disparities will not be achieved without first acknowledging racism’s contribution to health and social inequalities. This includes inequitable access to quality health care services. Our members see the negative health outcomes of racism in their patients who are often at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, low birth weight, premature birth and infant mortality.
“Family physicians are uniquely woven into the social fabric of their respective communities. We take seriously our mission to ensure that all of our patients and their families feel valued and respected as equal members of society. We support family physicians in their efforts to actively dismantle implicit racist and discriminatory institutional practices in their communities. To assist our members, the AAFP established the Center for Diversity and Health Equity in 2017 to empower all family physicians to take action and confront health disparities head on. We will continue to use our organization’s platform and voice to advance the conversation and take action against racial injustice.
“In particular discriminatory policing, coupled with the use of excessive force, pose health and safety hazards to individuals and populations residing in targeted communities. This is particularly apparent for people of color and other socially marginalized groups.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to engage in an honest discussion about how to ensure that health outcomes and personal safety are not determined by the color of a person’s skin.”