Advancing Black Health and Equity: AFMC’s Commitment to Action

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February is Black History Month and the AFMC is proud to acknowledge and honour the important work being undertaken by our members in the field of Black health.

Specifically, we celebrate the recently formed Committee on Black Health, Innovation and Advancement. Under its newly adopted Strategic Action Plan, this Committee “aims to bring about positive change within the Canadian medical education landscape by uniting Black leaders at Canadian faculties of medicine, medical schools and institutions, collaborating with other medical education leaders, advocating for social justice and anti-racism, taking action to eliminate systemic barriers, and promoting inclusive and equitable health care environments for all”.

In addition to members from each Canadian medical school, the Committee also includes representatives from Black Physicians of Canada, the Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada, and the Black Health Education Collaborative.

The Committee has two strategic objectives:

  • To advocate for policy, structural, and institutional changes within Canadian faculties of medicine and medical schools and institutions to tackle systemic barriers so that Black physicians, learners, patients, and scholars can experience a sense of belonging and fair opportunities; and 
  • To strengthen collaborative advocacy between Black physician leaders, scholars, and supportive organizations, as well as with allies across institutions, to recognize and strengthen the focus on Black excellence in academic medicine.  

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Black physician leaders at their respective medical institutions to come together, build community, and ensure that the health and wellness of Black physicians, learners, patients, and scholars become an established medical – education priority in Canada.”

Dr. Kannin Osei-Tutu, Chair, AFMC Committee on Black Health, Innovation and Advancement

The Black Health, Innovation and Advancement (BHIAC) Strategic Action Plan is available here.

In a similar vein, we would like to highlight the Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (EDI) and Anti-Racism. Among other responsibilities, the Committee provides support and advice to the AFMC Board on strategic and operational matters related to EDI and anti-racism, as well as advocating for EDI and Anti-Racism in Canadian academic medicine. Their work included delivering a second Anti-Racism Praxis Workshop to the Board of Directors earlier this month, which was well received, as well as collaborate with the BMSAC’s calls to action reports.

These two Committees fall under the AFMC’s Standing Committee on Social Accountability, along with two other Committees and five Networks. Together, they represent the work of 235 committed members, who volunteer their time and expertise, working collaboratively to move the needle on social accountability in academic medicine.

Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada’s Calls to Action Reports

The Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada (BMSAC) is a collaborative network of Black medical students across Canada whose mission is “to secure equitable representation of Black students in Canadian medical schools and to advocate for more inclusive medical training that equips all learners to better serve the healthcare needs of underserved Black communities across Canada.”

In 2020, the BMSAC released calls to action to the 17 Canadian faculties of medicine, touching on Admissions, Curriculum and Accountability. Recently, a comprehensive environmental scan was undertaken to evaluate progress made in response to the calls to action.

“Most schools have made some progress with responding to the BMSAC’s Calls to Action and we applaud this. However, there is more work to be done supporting Black medical students across the country, addressing anti-Black racism and addressing disparities in care and outcome for the Black population. The BMSAC would also like to emphasize that addressing these recommendations is a continuous process, with faculties constantly self-evaluating and holding themselves accountable to their learner.”

Khadija Brouillette, Chair of the BMSAC

The AFMC wants to congratulate the students and volunteer evaluators for leading this valuable project and contributing to the progress of this crucial area of work. Stay tuned for further updates on this significant initiative in the coming months!