Why doctors want Canada to collect better black maternal health data

Why doctors want Canada to collect better black maternal health data


According to black health professionals and patients, increasing data on the increased risks faced by black women in the United Kingdom and the United States during pregnancy highlights the failure of color blind health care in Canada.

Black women in United Kingdom. with we. Official statistics show that they are four times more likely to die during pregnancy or childbirth than white women.A study recently published in the UK Lancet It was found that black women had a 40% higher risk of miscarriage than white women. In Canada, this level of demographic tracking is not available.

“For our country, we don’t have these data. So it is difficult to know exactly what we are dealing with,” said Dr. Modupe Tunde-Bias, a Toronto obstetrician and obstetrician and chairman of the Canadian Association of Black Doctors. “We can only infer from other countries.”

Black babies are more likely to be born prematurely in Canada

Tunde-Byass said that this is Canada’s only race-based pregnancy study conducted by researchers from Canada. 2016 McGill University, Showing that 8.9% of black women gave birth to premature babies (premature babies), compared with 5.9% of white peers.

Among the population groups, Canada’s premature birth rate is lower than that of the United States, where 12.7% of black women and 8% of white women are born prematurelyYesBut the differences between the two populations are roughly the same, which challenges the assumption that Canada’s universal healthcare system will bring similar results to all women.

Watch | Canada lacks black maternal health data, experts say:

Dr. Modupe Tunde-Byass, a Toronto obstetrician and chairman of the Canadian Association of Black Physicians, said Canada’s lack of key racial data on maternal health affects the care of black Canadian women. 1:09

“We are kind of living in this bubble, we think there is no difference within our healthcare system, even more so [because] Our healthcare system is free for everyone and universally applicable,” Tunde-Byass said, adding that knowledge gaps have led to “unconscious biases within the healthcare system”.

For example, she said that black women tend to have Shorter pregnancy And the risk of premature birth is higher. This means that health professionals should pay attention to their pain symptoms, as they may be a sign of childbirth.

Myths about black women and pain

However, Sani Robertson, a midwife in Toronto, said the opposite happens often. “There is a myth, really, black women experience less pain than white women.”

She said this means that when black women experience pain, there may be a misunderstanding that she should be able to bear it. “This may result in black women getting less painkillers, or even no painkillers at all. Sometimes, it depends on their experience rather than believing in their experience,” Robertson said.

Blacks and racialized Canadians have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Health Canada documented this phenomenon in a 2001 report, Certain situational issues regarding the fairness and responsiveness of access to health care in Canada, It found that the black community criticized “health professionals for ignoring the pain of black women when performing routine procedures during childbirth”, which was attributed to “health professionals’ belief that black skin is’tough’.”

Robertson attributed this misunderstanding to Racist legacy Dr. J. Marion Sims, an American doctor considered the father of modern gynecology, conducted experiments on black slaves without anesthesia in the 1800s.

Robertson said that collecting racial and ethnic data, as well as other details when the United States and the United Kingdom are already registering births, can help address health inequalities.

People are becoming more aware of the importance of race-based data during the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the Canadian Institute of Health Information to propose National Research Standard Race and ethnicity to “understand the diversity of patients and measure inequality.”

Recently, the Canadian Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recognition There are systemic racism and unfair health outcomes in healthcare.

Invisible, neglected and disrespected

Kimitra Ashman, a Toronto resident, said she felt she was ready to give birth before 40 weeks of pregnancy, which is more common among white women. But she said she was fired, even though black women usually have a shorter gestation period.

She was eventually induced.

“If I say at 37 weeks,’My body is feeling good. My pelvis is opening. What should I do?’ I don’t believe it will end with an emergency C-section?” I was instructed,’Oh no, no, No, no, it’s too early now. Stand up. ‘”

Watch | AI cannot recognize racist language:

Artificial intelligence is used to translate applications and other software. The problem is that the technology cannot distinguish between legitimate terms and terms that may be biased or racist. 2:27

The emergency caesarean section left her with keloids, a raised scar that is more common on black and dark skin and can sometimes be avoided with the correct surgical technique.

“I believe that if their training made them sensitive to the unique needs of black women’s pregnancy, I think this situation could have been avoided,” she said.

Instead, she said that she faced a “very painful raised scar” that had not been felt for two years.

Ashman said these are not the only experiences she has suffered from prejudice in the healthcare system.

“When I came to check in, a nurse at the front desk rolled his eyes at me. When you went to make an appointment, people thought you were not insured. Assume you are not educated. Assume you are a single mother.

“I feel neglected, ignored and disrespected.”

Eliminate racism in Canadian healthcare

Ashman sought the care of a black doctor during his second pregnancy. “I feel very comfortable,” she said. “I feel understood.”

Tunde-Byass said that black women’s healthcare experience is different from other Canadians. “So these are things that we need to acknowledge that exist in the structure of our system… and then find a way to eliminate racism.”

She said that part of the problem is that there are not enough black doctors relative to the population.

On October 17, 2020, Sister Jenthia and Dr. Angela Branche distributed a coronavirus survival kit to Natalie Hall as part of a door-to-door outreach program to the black community to increase participation in vaccine trials in Rochester, New York . (Lindsey De Dario/Reuters)

A kind Study in the U.S. Florida birth records show that the mortality rate of black infants is high-but if the patient has a black doctor, the mortality rate will be lower.

Margaret Akuamoah-Boateng gave birth to his second child in a small community in Alliston, Ontario earlier this year without any complications.

But she admitted that she still feels anxious about receiving treatment from the all-white hospital staff. “And I’m like,’I’m looking for someone with black experience, just because if the doctor is black, their staff is black, or if they have performed operations on blacks, I would feel comfortable.'”

At that time, her doctor brought a black doctor. “He doesn’t have to be there, but it’s great…like having a relative there,” Akuamoah-Boateng said.


For more stories about the experience of black Canadians—from anti-black racism to success stories in the black community—check out Becoming Black in Canada, a CBC project that Canadian blacks can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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