Black Health Education Collaborative launches educational tool on racism and Black health in Canada

Scholars from the University of Toronto and Dalhousie University have created a set of online courses on Black health and anti-Black racism in the Canadian health-care system, which will be available to learners across Canada – a momentous step in helping advance equitable care for Black Canadians.

The Black Health Primer was created in response to gaps in education and training on Black health and anti-Black racism in medicine and public health, say its creators Onye Nnorom, an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Sume Ndumbe-Eyoh, an assistant professor at Dalla Lana and OmiSoore Dryden, the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine.

The courses are intended for students, faculty, educators and health-care practitioners alike and can be used for professional development at health-related institutions and organizations, the founders say.

The initiative was developed by the Black Health Education Collaborative (BHEC), a group of Black scholars and practitioners committed to transforming medical and health professional education in service of improving the health of Black communities across Canada.

“Black people in Canada experience health and social inequities rooted in anti-Black racism,” says Nnorom, who co-founded the BHEC with Dryden. “The historical impacts of slavery on this land affect Black people today and influence the stereotypes they experience in health care.

“By providing education on the issues that Black communities are facing in their everyday lives, the racism they encounter in health care and better anti-racist approaches to care, we – the Black Health Education Collaborative – believe the primer can improve the quality of care Black Canadians are receiving.

“Furthermore, these modules were designed to support the ‘unlearning’ of racism and learning racially just practices which improve health for all.”

The BHEC, with support from Dalla Lana, Temerty Medicine, and Dalhousie University, will launch the Black Health Primer on March 21 – the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – at an online event titled, “Why Anti-Racist Healthcare Matters.”

“The Public Health Agency of Canada has highlighted that ‘anti-Black racism and systemic discrimination are key drivers of health inequalities faced by diverse Black Canadian communities,’ and yet health-care professionals – from doctors to public health professionals – are not taught about the ways in which anti-Black racism negatively impacts the health of Black communities,” says Ndumbe-Eyoh, who is BHEC’s executive director.

“This is a significant failing which leads to health professionals practising without the knowledge and skills required to provide adequate care for Black patients and communities.”

“It is our hope that the medical students, doctors, nurses, and students who are in other health fields will complete the training and be inspired to provide better quality care,” says Nnorom, who hosts the Healthcaring Differently social media campaign.