WHEREAS, MSV Policy 05.4.01 states, “The Medical Society of Virginia believes that all citizens of Virginia should have access to medical services without discrimination based on race, religion, age, social status, income, sexual orientation or perceived gender”, and
WHEREAS, Racial and ethnic minorities experience a wide variety and multitude of health and healthcare disparities, and many of these disparities have widened over past decades (1); and
WHEREAS, African Americans and Hispanics in Virginia were significantly more likely to report unsafe neighborhoods, and research has associated perceived unsafe neighborhoods with poorer physical health, mental health, and reduced social connections (2); and
WHEREAS, There is strong evidence for poor health among socioeconomically disadvantaged, racial, and ethnic minority populations in Virginia, and African Americans in Virginia live 3-5 fewer years than Whites on average (2); and
WHEREAS, The higher mortality and infection rates seen in communities of color during the COVID pandemic has drawn attention to these disparities nationally and locally (3); and
WHEREAS, The reporting of race during the collection of COVID-19 data in Virginia has been partial and inconsistent, thereby making it difficult to estimate the true impact of the pandemic on communities of color within the state (4);
WHEREAS, Many states have established health equity task forces within state health departments to identify vulnerable populations and address the health disparities underpinning the susceptibility of these communities to COVID (5)[i];
RESOLVED, that the Medical Society of Virginia amend Policy 05.4.01 to the following:
The Medical Society of Virginia believes that all citizens of Virginia should have access to medical services without discrimination based on race, religion, age, social status, income, sexual orientation or perceived gender, and be it further resolved
That the MSV recognizes racial and ethnic health disparities as a major public health problem and that racial and ethnic bias or personal prejudice is a barrier to effective medical diagnosis and treatment. The MSV affirms strategic interventions to bolster the health of marginalized populations adversely affected by racial, ethnic, or cultural prejudice in the healthcare system.
i1. National Center for Health Statistics (US. “Health, United States, 2015: With special feature on racial and ethnic health disparities.” (2016).
2. Virginia Department of Health, 2012. Virginia Health Equity Report 2012. Richmond.
3. 2020 The Covid Tracking Project. Racial Data Dashboard. CovidTracking.com
4. Yancy CW. COVID-19 and African Americans. JAMA. 2020;323(19):1891–1892. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6548
5. National Academy for State Health Policy. (July 2020). How States Collect Data, Report, and Act on COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities. Retrieved from: https://www.nashp.org/how-states-report-covid-19-data-by-race-and-ethnicity/#tab-id-3