Omicron 'blaming' shows persistence of racism in healthcare -advocate

FILE PHOTO: Dr Joia Crear-Perry during a U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Washington

By Donna Bryson

(Reuters) – The persistence of racism is evident once again with the “blaming and shaming” of African nations for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, health advocate Dr. Joia Crear-Perry said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Reuters Next panel on racial disparities in Black maternal healthcare, Crear-Perry said the medical profession in the United States needed to stop resorting to racist tropes and start truth-telling.

“Even if you look at the latest blaming and shaming that's happening around the latest Omicron variant you see the same history, the same racist trope of blaming certain places, assuming white nations and nations that have majority-white populations are going to need to be protected from places who are not,” she said.

“That's the same legacy and history that shows up in health and same legacy and history that we have to have truth-telling around in order for us to stop that behavior of blaming and shaming and harming people.”

More than 50 countries have reportedly implemented travel measures to guard against Omicron, many of them banning travelers from southern African countries.

In guidance issued this week as reports of the Omicron variant spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next/

(Reporting by Donna Bryson in Denver; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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