San Diego

San Diego doctor highlights the need for Black Americans in health care

NBC Universal, Inc.

The health care industry makes up a large chunk of the U.S. economy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans face especially high health disparities.

“The data shows that racial and ethnic minority groups, throughout the United States, experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts,” according to the CDC.

Doctors and organizations across the country and in San Diego are aiming to do something about this disparity.

Part of the problem is patients identifying with their health care providers.

David Pride M.D., Ph.D., the UCSD Health Director of Microbiology, had a telling experience early in his career.

Why Black representation in health care directly impacts the health of Black Americans

"I am from the deep South and when I think of the first patient I ever saw – the first patient I ever saw refused to see me and that patient refused to see me because of the color of my skin," Dr. Pride said.

Many doctors believe that representation and a connection with patients helps in the effort to achieve better health outcomes.

"The one thing that is really clear is that some people are more comfortable with a physician that looks like them and that understands them and feel like they understand the issues that they go through on a daily basis," Dr. Pride said.

“That personal connection is really important so as long as they feel like the physician understands what they go through on a daily basis, they’re much more likely to cooperate with the things that they’re being told to do to better their health,” Dr. Pride said.

"I have worked really hard to encourage other minorities to enter the field and help them develop their careers," Dr. Pride added.

What the CDC is doing

In a statement on the CDC’s website, they state a commitment to addressing racism as an obstacle to health equity.

“At CDC, we are committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC as the nation’s leading public health agency has established this web portal, ‘Racism and Health’ to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions.”

Dr. Pride believes that encouraging people of color to enter the medical field would have a positive impact for everyone.

Despite the obstacles, he remains optimistic about improved health outcomes for people of color in the future.

"When I think of how far we have come as a country, as a people, and the way we think about diversity and the way we think about the capability of individuals — it's just not where it was even just 20+ years ago," Dr. Pride said.

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