Health inequalities and the impact of racism on child health, kindness and advocacy

Health inequities is an issue I keep returning to in this blog. Perhaps it’s the complexity and vastness of addressing the economic, political, and social challenges, including racism that impact so heavily on health outcomes that frustrate me on a seemingly daily basis currently at the moment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics @AmerAcadPeds this week published a statement on the impact of racism on child health, I think there’s much we can take note of and challenge ourselves on here in the UK

The AAP share that racism has a profound impact on the health status of children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families. Whilst they acknowledge progress has been made toward racial equality and equity, the evidence to support the continued negative impact of racism on health and well-being through implicit and explicit biases, institutional structures, and interpersonal relationships still exists, I’d suggest this certainly isn’t unique to the USA.

Through discussing these issues openly they suggest health professionals can proactively engage in strategies to optimize clinical care, workforce development, professional education, systems engagement, and research in a manner designed to reduce the health effects of structural, personally mediated, and internalized racism and as a result improve the health and well-being of all children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families. If we fail to address this, health inequalities will remain.

The New York Times also covered this and in a interview with a paediatrician they shared that clinical settings need to make everyone feel explicitly welcome, with images of diverse families up on the wall and with the capacity to provide care in different languages. The reception families get at the front desk, who is staffing it, as well as who is seeing patients all play a part. Toys, dolls, books, videos should they encourage all be multicultural.

They go on to state that ‘Our diverse pediatric workforce is critically important to begin untangling the thread of racism sewn through the fabric of society and affecting the health of pediatric populations.’

As Child Health professionals our challenge is to examine and acknowledge our own biases, seek out, embrace and advocate for innovative policies and cross-sector partnerships designed to improve medical, economic, environmental, housing, judicial, and educational equity for optimal child, adolescent, and emerging adult developmental outcomes. It’s an issue I think we can become more activated and engaged with.

As I continue to immerse myself back into being in a provider organisation, seeing the societal challenges faced by children and young people, advocating for and with those in our local communities seems increasingly important.

I met Lillian of @PinPointIncorp, an amazing not for profit organisation based in Walthamstow this week. Lillian shared feedback from a vulnerable young person who completed one of her programmes, on being asked what have you got out of this bike mechanics course, they wrote ‘kindness’, it was the first time they’d experienced such kindness …. it was the kindness rather than the mechanical skills that had had the greatest impact on that young person.

And I’ve just finished listening to the David Nott’s ‘War Doctor’ whose advocacy is inspiring, I’d really recommend listening on @audibleuk and do follow the difference the @NottFoundation is making.

So my reflections this week include acknowledging and tackling racism, the power of kindness and the impact of advocacy….

…. I’ve much to ponder on….

Author: @kathevans2

I’m a Children’s Nurse who is passionate about improving healthcare and life with people who use services. I love getting out in the countryside or to the seaside to promote my mental health and well-being. On a journey to doing 100 marathons (slowly!) & part of team #NHS1000miles (new members always welcome!) I also love charity shopping, cooking and healthy eating too 😉 Sharing thoughts on a range of things that interest me. Comments, challenge, links to further thinking and research are most welcome. Learning and thinking together is always more fun!

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