Dr Mary Bassett, moved by the recent attacks on Americans of African descent in the US, addressed the link between race and health in her lecture, entitled “#BlackLivesMater”. Can such a link be made? Most definitely, argued Dr Bassett in an earlier editorial in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM, March, 2015). Her article provides statistics on health disparities as they affect people of colour and refers to the dearth of scholarly research on this link.
Race and health are critical issues that South Africans can relate to, both in terms of this country‟s past injustices and its present challenges. With her long medical and research background of work in Africa, Dr Bassett was ideally placed to highlight the link between health disparities and inequities and race in the US and South African contexts.
Dr Bassett concludes her NEJM article with a plea:
“As a mother of black children, I feel a personal urgency for society to acknowledge racism’s impact on the everyday lives of millions of people in the United States and elsewhere and to act to end discrimination. As a doctor and New York City’s health commissioner, I believe that health professionals have much to contribute to that debate and process. Let’s not sit on the sidelines.‟