APIC Answers CDC’s Call to Take on Racism in Health Care

April 12, 2021
Frank Diamond

“APIC will be focused on conducting research on how health equity and health disparities should be addressed in the field of infection prevention and control including designing interventions…”

Racial disparities in health care has been a problem for decades. Last week, Rochelle Walensky, MD, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), went even further, calling those disparities racism that represents a serious public health threat. Walensky noted that the COVID-19 pandemic helped to underscore health disparities that have become entrenched.

Walensky said in her statement that the “disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19. Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.”

Today top officials of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) applauded Walensky’s move.

In a statement, Ann Marie Pettis, BSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC, APIC’s president, and Devin Jopp, EdD, APIC’s CEO, said that “APIC stands ready to work with the CDC and the public health community to confront health inequity and health disparities in our nation. APIC will be focused on conducting research on how health equity and health disparities should be addressed in the field of infection prevention and control including designing interventions that can be deployed nationwide to reduce racial disparities in healthcare-associated infections and improve outcomes.”

Walensky outlined some of those steps in her statement last week.

“We will continue to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.

With COVID-19 funding, we are making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.

We are expanding our internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.

We are launching our new web portal “Racism and Health” as part of our ongoing commitment to serve as a catalyst for public and scientific discourse around racism and health, and to be accountable for our progress.”

Echoing Walensky’s call, Pettis and Jopp said that in their statement that “health disparities and long-standing gaps in health care equity have become even more apparent as we have watched the pandemic’s impact within certain segments of our population. Black, Indigenous, and people of color have contracted, been hospitalized, and died from COVID-19 at higher rates than white Americans.”

Walensky in her statement last week said that “confronting the impact of racism will not be easy. I know that we can meet this challenge. I know that we can create an America where all people have the opportunity to live a healthy life when we each take responsibility and work together. I am committed to this work. I certainly hope you will lean in and join me.”

Today, APIC did just that.