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The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Advancing Health Equity  

Orlando L. Taylor, Nicole L. Retland, Briana Jeffreys, Elaine Meredith, Melissa E. Wynn, and Pamela L. Carter-Nolan

The end of the Civil War marked a period when America’s medical practitioners considered the Black populace to be unworthy of proper health care on par with that of its White populace. Although slavery had officially ended, its vestiges remained prevalent in the lives of formerly enslaved persons. Indeed, lingering health issues permeated the generations that have followed, such that diseases that are highly treatable have often resulted in premature illness and death. Historically, the health-care industry has even blamed the formerly enslaved and subsequent generations for their own health conditions. In the early post–Civil War years, state and local statutes legalizing segregation in the American South (known as the Jim Crow laws) cemented these views and perpetuated unfair and unequal health-care conditions. In more recent years, COVID-19 exacerbated an already dire situation, and a disproportionate share of illness and death has occurred among African Americans and other underrepresented masses. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) can lead the way in bringing some semblance of equality to this situation. Primarily increasing the fiscal resources of HBCUs so that they can further advance the education of a more diverse health-care workforce is a critical component for providing culturally sensitive health care for the nation. HBCUs already play a disproportionate role in these efforts andwill likely continue their role to effect much-needed change in the prevalence of treatable illnesses and deadly diseases among America’s Black population. While continuing their historic mission to educate the Black populace of the United States, resulting from generations of racial exclusionary and discriminatory practices by predominantly White institutions, HBCUs continue to provide compassionate culturally sensitive education in the public health-care field. Moreover, they provide real-time testimony for the nation’s higher education enterprise on how to provide equality in health-care education.

Article

Health Workforce: Situations and Challenges in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Brazil  

Maria Helena Machado, Renato Penha de Oliveira Santos, Pedro Miguel dos Santos Neto, Vanessa Gabrielle Diniz Santana, and Francisco Eduardo de Campos

The greatest challenge in the development of universal health systems worldwide is to increase organization, training, and regulation of the health workforce (HWF). To accomplish this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has pointed out several strategies utilized since the beginning of the 2000s. One of the world regions with the greatest internal HWF disparities is the Americas, more specifically Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil is another of the countries in this region that presents great inequities in its HWF distribution, although its Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde, or SUS), created after 1988, is one of the largest universal health systems in the world. It is worth noting that Latin America, the Caribbean, and Brazil historically have high levels of social inequality and have recently become regions severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite some advances in the formation and distribution of HWF in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last 10 years, structural problems persist in the health systems of several countries in this region, such as Brazil. The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated some problems such as the distribution of specialized health workers in intensive care units and the precarious working conditions in several public health services that were organized to face the pandemic.