A study written by Black physician Sandy Okele and presented to the American Thoracic Society startled listeners. They did not anticipate being told that there might be delays in specialist care for the sickest of Black children with asthma.
Instead, says Okele, “it is assumed that the sickest of children are appropriately referred in a timely fashion to asthma specialists, regardless of race. These findings suggest that African-American patients are suffering longer from poorly controlled asthma than their caucasian counterparts before being seen by an asthma specialist."
Okele is an assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at Johns Hopkins University, and a pediatric pulmonary specialist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
He says that the goal moving forward will be to gather information to help remove disparities in care between African-American and caucasian asthmatic children.
"This study and future studies also may help to further clarify and standardize the criteria which should be used to determine which children should be referred to asthma specialists, and when those referrals need to occur,” says Okele.
The impact of the local environment on Black children has been reported on by BET.com in articles that covered how most Americans still live in unclean air and that Michigan students attend school in heavily polluted areas. Such conditions have prompted EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to say that everybody has a right to clean air and water in their communities.
(Photo: D.Ross Cameron/Landov)