There is much that still remains swept under the proverbial carpet about America's treatment to its African immigrants. One of the chapters, little known and often left untold has only recently started to emerge and concerns American health care system and its using Blacks as guinea pigs.
Attorney and author Vernellia R. Tandall tells the story in her book 'Dying While Black' showing how America's health care system was built on the bodies of African-American individuals from the 19th century continuing to present days. Some f the information is unbelievable at best shocking at worst such as her allegations that AIDS was created by a government-sanctioned health care for the purposes of medical advancement.
Countless stories from Black residents of both North and South tell about how they were unwillingly and unknowingly abducted and exploited for medical experiments. There were the 'night doctors' -- White doctors who in the dead of night would pick up Black citizens and without their consent perform medical experiments on them. Another fact never substantiated but with some evidence is that graves of blacks were continuously riddled and bodies removed for autopsy that too served purposes of medical research.
Before the days of rigid ethical research studies, and even after, medical experiments were more casual when it came to Blacks. The infamous Tuskegee Syphillis Experiment was a case in point where 400 African-American men were used in a government-sponsored study to research the effects of untreated syphilis. Even thoguh penicillin had become introduced and available as a known healer of syphilis shortly after the study's commencement, the subjects were never accorded the drug and the objective of the study, in fact, was to investigate the post-mortem exam of each subject in order to study the results of the disease on the Black population as compared to the White population.
The Tuskegee experiment, famous (or, rather notorious) as it is, received eternal attention. Lesser known are other such experiments that were conducted in the middle and late twentieth century. During the 1960s and 1970, for instance, the list went on and on with: black prisoners being used for skin-testing drugs; blood samples being extracted from numerous Black youth to test for anemia (the blood was actually analyzed in order to test for criminal tendencies); young and underprivileged Black women were used in order to test an unreliable device that was used for terminating pregnancy; result - severe bleeding and hysterectomy. Other misdemeanors included the sickle cell Anemia testing program that, leading to ill-managed 'genetic counseling' services resulted in black suicide and declension of population. This is the theme of Skloot's story. "The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks."
Lacks herself developed cervical cancer and as poor Black woman born in the South she received medical care in the 'public' wards of John Hopkins University Hospital that was one of the few that would treat black individuals.
Tissue samples were extracted from her without her consent and developed in the cytology laboratories of the hospital. The cells thrived and, being unusually prolific, were sold throughout the United States and internationally to research labs. These HeLa cells then became extensively used in biomedical and pharmaceutical research leading to various medical breakthroughs that included development of the polio vaccine, breast caner treatment drugs, human original insulin, amongst others. The Lacks family only became aware of the theft when an article was published and when medical researches solicited them for additional biological and genetic tissue.
In short, the fact remains: There was no formal medical consent in the 1950"s and more than nay other popel, Blacks had it hardest of all being exploited due to the gap.
How would a socialworker handle this problem today.
Modern health care has changed a lot since then with strict ethical requirements being instituted into the medical establishment and, in fact, into all research experimentation that involves human (and animal) subjects with rigidity of ethical requirements increasing with vulnerability of the population. A Lack story, therefore, would not be allowed to happen today. Each and every person involved in the health care industry ahs to follow strict requirements that ensure that he comply with the ethical prescriptions of Hippocrates: that he not cause harm and that he actively do good. Patients must be informed of all details of their treatment and of medical experiments that they may be asked to be involved in. Experiments are only conducted on them with their express permission and with total understanding of each and every iota of the procedure. They have to, in fact, sign a consent form that they agree and have to be told of expected outcome. Bioethics review boards and panels exist at most medical institutions, with ethicists debating prickly topics, and penalties are sever for violation.
A social worker today would handle the problem by informing the disadvantages and ignorant person about his or her rights and referring her to watchdog organizations such as the Amnesty International, if necessary. Amnesty International conducts an open study on the high mortality rate of young, mostly poor and mostly female Black individuals in America. The social worker too may make herself more active in pertinent organizations such as joining a bioethical review board for minorities in order to call for quality assurance for all health care consumers.
Change need not be instigated solely at the community, public level. By the healthcare organization recognizing that environment and socio-economic as well as political factors can create needed change, they themselves can work towards educating the public and involving themselves in change and indeed sites such as NurseActivism.org, for instance, is an instrument that can be used for involving the media in achieving change and in educating the public regarding existent problems and need for publicity. Television, radio and print media, in conjunction with the vast web of Internet resources, as well as photography, documentary, art, marketing, and video (amongst other domains), can help the social worker get her message across and help influence people's attitude and behavior towards ill-treated people.
As regards the underlying problems of health concerns that Black people, particularly disadvantaged ones growing up in slams and lacking Medicare have plenty of, Bell and Standish (2009) argue that the problems occurs far earlier and can -- and should be -- addressed at their root basis by grappling with the very factors that cause them i.e. policy, place, and community. Aspects of legislation, rules and conventions may instigate the problems as well as exacerbate them. Legislation determines the level and quality of help accorded particular individuals depending on factors such as their race, gender, age, and socio-economic conditions. The context of the place, crime-factor, level of healthiness, industry, and other aspects of the environment may likewise aggravate health concerns, whilst lack of social support, may interfere too.
Bell and Standish (2009), therefore, recommend, that for health problems to be most effectively dealt with, intervention must be implemented at a root level by organizations getting together to call for needed community changes and policies. Doing so will achieve changes at a higher sphere, reducing severity and incidence of diseases and modifying the health environment in this country and on a global level.
Why African-Americans still have poor health insurance and what social workers need to do to help.
The health cares system was, until the last few decades, managed by fee for system (FSS) i.e. people paid for services. Comparatively recently, this has changed to one that is a managed care system although the brunt of it is still fee-for-service. Problems with the FFS are numerous including the fact that it is expensive with the cost of insurance mounting making poor populations, of which many individuals of the Black community are a party, barely able, if at all, to afford…