June 8, 2020
From the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology joins with the nation in this time of despair and sorrow and decries racial injustice wherever it is found. As physicians and healers, we know that racial disparities affect many aspects of life – often in the healthcare arena. We recognize that racism is a destructive force in our country, and we condemn it wherever it exists.
Racial inequities have meant that Black Americans and Hispanics of Puerto Rican origin have the highest rates of asthma in the U.S., as well as the highest asthma death rates. They also have the highest number of emergency room visits and hospital stays due to asthma. Black Americans and Puerto Ricans are three times more likely to die from asthma than whites.
Despite the inequities, Black and Hispanic patients often do not have access to the care they need. Access to care is hampered by socioeconomic disparities, shortages of primary care physicians in minority communities and language and literacy barriers. Additionally, access to specialty care is often limited by the insurance plans many in the minority community can afford because of restrictive rules that intentionally exclude specialists to save money.
The College pledges to continue its work to wipe out these inequities and to increase our efforts to support allergists and immunologists in advocating for patients in underserved communities. As an organization, we can do this through education, promotion of research into health disparities, and advocacy for our patients’ access to care. We also will create resources to support delivery of culturally competent care in our healthcare systems.
Earlier this year, the College’s scientific journal, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, published a perspective on health care disparities in asthma. The authors wrote, “Persistent health disparities in asthma care should concern physicians involved in the care of asthma patients. Health care disparities add additional costs not only to those patients and families adversely impacted by such disparities, but also to the health care system.”1
We understand that changes are needed to enhance the health and welfare of all populations in our country, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities. The College hopes and believes that the way forward will be paved with positive solutions for building up our communities. Our members are committed to improving the health and lives of our patients.
1. Zachary CY, Scott TA, Foggs M, Meadows JA. Asthma: An illustration of health care disparities. Ann Allergy, Asthma Immunol. 2020;124(2):148–9.