featured Healthcare Racism

Raymond Sheppard: On racism in the healthcare system

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Healthcare delivered to white Nova Scotians is better than the healthcare African Nova Scotians receive.

Based solely on my conversations with hundreds of African Nova Scotians over the years, it seems these disparities have been around for a very long time.

If the complaints from African Nova Scotians were documented and tallied and compared with those of white people, I am sure they would reflect a system that is biased against us, and that provides care of a lesser quality and fewer preventative services.

Maybe we will need to get a white professor from Ontario to analyze the stats, like was done in the case of street checks in Halifax, maybe then we would be taken seriously.

However, I strongly believe such stats have not even been collected up to now

So whether you are Dr. Lynn Jones, Dr. Mayann Francis. my grandson or anybody among thousands of others, you may not be getting what you deserve. 

Are we dying younger based on the treatment we receive?

Like in law enforcement, criminal justice, housing, employment, education racism also plays a role in the healthcare system. How could it not be?

To address disparities in healthcare, those involved in the delivery of healthcare must first acknowledge that discrimination and anti-Black racism in the system are real. 

Most times, African Nova Scotians are skeptical and even a bit fearful of the healthcare system, based on the many experiments that were carried out on African Americans and African Canadians.

When my mother developed tuberculosis during the late sixties, the doctor and health nurse at the time tried unsuccessfully to convince her that her condition was due to dirty surroundings. 

My dear mother was far removed from being dirty, yet her diagnosis came with a racial stereotype. As a result of this condition, she had a lung removed at the now torn down Kentville Sanatorium. 

Many in the African Nova Scotian community when accessing healthcare are told hypertension is common in Blacks. If true, one has to wonder why. 

Like mental healthcare, the fact that African Nova Scotians have a different heritage and culture and therefore the healthcare system must take into account traditional healing methods, etc.  

See also: Raymond Sheppard: African Nova Scotian mental health matters

The public health services of hospitals, community health centers, clinics and local health departments are vital to white Nova Scotians, especially to those who are wealthy. 

Health Care Services available in Nova Scotian are largely Eurocentric and therefore they are sometimes avoided by African Nova Scotians. 

In surveys taken during the days of the Black United Front, it was reported that a percentage of young African Nova Scotians were not accessing health care services as often as older African Nova Scotians. Why? The answers seem to suggest mistrust. 

While few clinical trials in Canada have evaluated the response of African Canadians to new medications, the limited data available suggest that, for the most part, African Canadians are expected to conform to impact and results of Eurocentric accepted norms. 

There is cause for concern about the appropriateness of some diagnostic and treatment procedures, one treatment does not necessarily fit all. 

As African Nova Scotians, we must always question what we are being fed and check the often-present racist bias of the ones that do the feeding.

See also: Mayann Francis about incident at Dartmouth General: “I had to explain that racist behaviour is not only calling somebody the N-word”

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  1. Question to White People who work in ‘professional’ jobs in NS Health: How can it be that we have learned of 3 cases in 10 days in which African Nova Scotians have been a) made to wait long wait times in emergency b) talked down to by professional staff c) discounted, disbelieved complete with eye-rolling.
    There are many more cases, I’m sure out there.
    What’s your excuse ??

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