As physicians of naturopathic medicine and supporters of naturopathic health solutions for all people, the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM) acknowledges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statement on “Racism and Heath.” Racism’s threat to health in America must be addressed by all health providers and institutions if we are to see lasting change.
In the statement, the CDC calls out the damaging impact that racism has especially on communities of color, which creates inequities in access to health care, as well as housing, food, education, employment, and financial security. These social determinants of health are recognized drivers of inequities in communities of color and as such, result in poor health outcomes.
“Individuals, organizations, businesses, and the government have a long way to go to right these inequities, including our non-profit organization. The Institute for Natural Medicine is aligned with the CDC to elevate the importance of the social determinants of health,” says Michelle Simon, PhD, ND, president and CEO of INM.
One of the fundamental tools taught in naturopathic medical school is the Therapeutic Order, which guides naturopathic doctors to first assess a holistic view of their patients’ contributing health factors. Social determinants of health – including the contributors to and impacts of racism – are included in this foundational assessment.
Another fundamental tenet of naturopathic medicine is our licensed doctors’ roles as teachers. As such, naturopathic medicine has a unique role to play helping elevate awareness and understanding amongst other medical professionals to further their knowledge and understanding of how the social determinants of health can improve health outcomes.
We believe that health is a human right. Above all, First Do No Harm is an oath that our organization and our partner organization, The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) believes strongly in, and was articulated in an earlier AANP statement in response to racism.
At INM, we will continue our efforts to use our influence and reputation to highlight lived experiences and perspectives of people of color throughout the editorial process. We will consider the challenges faced by communities of color when discussing issues of health and treatment with our public audience, and continue to offer educational opportunities for youth from all backgrounds to help lead healthier lives.
NOTE: Since this statement was released, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published this life stream video, Racism Against Asian Americans, Combating Hate and Discrimination. We encourage you to watch this to better understand rising racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. (updated May 4, 2021)
Another update: The Cancer Support Community recorded this radio show on the topic of health equity and cancer care. Cancer care has a long standing history of inequity and disparities including incidence of cancer, survival and access to treatment.