Historically Black Medical Schools Get $100 Million Endowment From Michael Bloomberg

The donation will combat systemic inequities in medicine.

Former New York City mayor and one-time Democratic candidate for president Michael Bloomberg announced he’ll be donating $100 million to four historically Black medical schools on Thursday (September 3), which includes a $32.8 million to the Howard University College of Medicine.

The donation is designed to improve the health and wellness of Black communities during the coronavirus pandemic and ease the financial burden on Black medical students.

According to a press release from Howard, 800 medical students among the four institutions will each receive grants up to $100,000. Other schools receiving money include the Charles R. Drew University of Science and Medicine in Los Angeles; Meharry Medical College in Nashville; and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

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“Healthcare disparities exist for a myriad of reasons related to systemic infrastructural issues, not the least of which is the dearth of black doctors. Black doctors with cultural competency are a major part of the solution, but their path is often hampered by a compromised financial situation,” Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, President of Howard University, said in the release. “This gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies is the first stone dropped into a calm lake of opportunity and promise. The ripple effects that it will have on the lives of our students and our programs will carry on for generations.”

Black newborn babies in the U.S. are more likely to survive childbirth if they are cared for by Black doctors, according to a recent study. They are also three times more likely to die when cared for by white doctors.

Researchers from George Mason University analyzed the data that studied 1.8 million hospital births in Florida between 1992 and 2015. The study was published Monday (August 17) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also known as PNAS.

The study found that the mortality rate of Black newborns shrunk by between 39% and 58% when Black physicians took charge of the birth, further proving the racial disparities in healthcare even at a young age. Contrastly, the mortality rate for white babies was largely unaffected by the doctor's race.

The coronavirus has also especially hit the African American community hard. A report from ProPublica concludes that, as COVID-19 spread, it spiked in Black communities in various cities across the country.

What’s more, chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes that exist in higher numbers in Black populations mean Black people are especially vulnerable to the virus’ more serious complications. 

According to the New York Times’ DealBook newsletter, Bloomberg’s initiative is to increase the number of Black doctors in America and ultimately lower racial disparities in health and wealth. The donation was made after he reportedly reviewed data suggesting Black doctors help provide more positive outcomes for Black patients.

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