Health Secretary Sajid Javid Launches Review of Racial Bias in Medical Equipment After COVID-19 Deaths | UK News

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has ordered a review of possible racial bias in medical equipment as he pledged to “bridge the chasms the pandemic has exposed”.

It comes amid fears that thousands of patients from ethnically diverse communities have died from the COVID-19[female[feminine when they should have survived.

Mr. Javid referenced research that has shown oximeters – which monitor oxygen levels and are used to see if treatment is needed for COVID-19 – are less accurate on people with darker skin.

A report released earlier this week also found that sickle cell patients, who are predominantly of African or Caribbean descent, “too often receive substandard care”.

Health secretary said any bias is “unacceptable”

Writing in The Sunday Times, Mr Javid said: “I am determined to take a fresh perspective in this position and do whatever it takes to ensure that in this country your health and your experience of health and care are not dictated by where you live or where you come from. “

He added: “It’s easy to look at a machine and assume that everyone has the same experience. But technologies are created and developed by people, and so biases, even unintentional ones, can also be a problem here.

“So questions like who writes the code, how a product is tested and who sits around the board table are critical, especially when it comes to our health. “

The independent review will also examine “other significant biases” such as gender bias and determine whether “lifesaving technologies such as MRI scanners can be made accessible to pregnant or breastfeeding women.”

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The Health Secretary wrote: ‘One of the founding principles of our NHS is equality, and the possibility that bias – even unintentional – could lead to poorer health is totally unacceptable. “

Although the pandemic has exposed these problems, he said, “the problem of biases within medical devices has been sidestepped for far too long.”

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Health secretary said Azeem Rafiq’s words were “heartbreaking”

In his article, the minister said that he had “watched in horror” the testimonial from cricketers like Azeem Rafiq, who spoke about the racism they experienced in sport and his own experience of racism growing up.

He wrote: “The same word that was so ridiculously dismissed as a joke between teammates was often used against me when I was growing up – and I can assure you that it’s not a joke, it hurts.

“Although attitudes have fortunately changed a lot since then, there are still too many people in this country who find the odds are unfairly stacked against them.”

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Key moments from Azeem Rafiq’s racism hearing

The Tory MP said he was discussing with his US counterpart, Xavier Becerra – the first Latino to take on this role, the introduction of new standards ensuring that medical devices must be tested on all races before they are allowed to be used. be sold. .

He concluded: “One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the gift of good health.

“I will make it my mission to bridge the chasms that the pandemic has exposed, to make us not only a healthier country, but also a fairer one.”

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