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As a part of its UNITE initiative to address systemic racism in healthcare, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking for feedback on how to advance racial equity and diversity within the biomedical research workforce, as well as advancing research on health inequities.
At Salud America!, we believe that increasing diversity among research leaders and clinical trial participants will help achieve true health equity, especially for populations disproportionately impacted by health issues and COVID-19, like the Latino population.
If you agree, you can endorse our leader’s comment to NIH.
Responses will be accepted through Friday, April 23, 2021.
UPDATE: NIH extended the deadline for submitting feedback from April 9 to April 23. 500+ members of the Salud America! network have endorsed the comment as of the April 9 deadline.
Dr. Amelie Ramirez, Director of Salud America! and of the Institute of Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, will submit the following comment to NIH on how to advance racial equity and diversity in biomedical research:
Increasing racial equity and diversity in the biomedical research workforce will help us achieve true health equity, particularly for marginalized groups like Latinos, who suffer from disproportionate health issues due to historic systemic racism, discrimination, and implicit bias in the healthcare system. Diversity in the biomedical research workforce can be addressed twofold: increasing diversity in higher education for medical degrees and addressing systemic racism and implicit bias within healthcare and clinical trials.
To increase diversity in medical schools, there must be an interest and awareness for a career medicine early on. This can be addressed through mentorship programs, internships, and fellowships that NIH funds with under-resourced communities, increased financial aid for minority students seeking higher education, and organizations that support minority students once in medical school. NIH should support programs that address the lack of diversity in the doctoral and research fields, such as the Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program, which significantly increased Latino and Latino-focused trainees’ confidence to apply to a doctoral program and academic self-efficacy (https://salud.to/exitostudy).
Systemic racism and implicit bias are ingrained in the healthcare field, but steps can be taken to address this. A study in JAMA network found that while 45% of Latino and Black physicians experienced racial epithets or refusal of care from patients, 84% did not report discriminatory instances to their leadership, indicating a lack of support or resources for minority physicians (https://salud.to/physicianbias). Interpersonal training on implicit bias and establishing a support system in instances of bias and racism will help address this. One particular tool is the Salud America! implicit bias action pack (https://salud.to/seebias).
Additionally, steps must be taken to address the large racial/ethnic gap in clinical trials and research. Latinos represent 18.5% of the U.S. population, but are less than 10% of those in federal cancer and drug studies. With the use of culturally relevant digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships, we can reach more diverse communities that are often left out of trials and research.
Take Action by April 23, 2021!
Anyone can leave a comment on the NIH’s feedback form until April 23, 2021.
We hope that you will endorse this comment from Dr. Ramirez.
Also, to engage more Latinos in clinical trials, Dr. Ramirez is creating Latino-focused recruitment strategies and systems for cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials. This work is supported by a grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
“Our new project will allow us to use culturally relevant digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships to promote health equity and advance clinical trials for cancer treatment and Alzheimer’s disease among Latinos,” Ramirez said.
She will add a sentence about the number of supporters who endorse her comment, so that NIH can see how many people support the ideal of diverse research and health equity for all.