Did you know that Black History Month has a theme each year? The 2022 theme is Black Health and Wellness, which focuses on the legacy of Black healthcare workers as well as Black experts in naturopathy and holistic medicine.
This year’s theme is especially powerful given the disparities Black people face in the medical system. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Black people face a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other conditions. There is also a well-documented history of providers ignoring the pain and symptoms of Black patients who attempt to seek care.
Despite systemic racism and bias, Black people continue to provide community care and create innovations that better the health of all people. Below are just a few examples of Black excellence in health care:
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett: Dr. Corbett is one of the NIH’s leading scientists that worked to develop the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19. An expert viral immunologist, she continues to work towards new vaccine research for universal coronavirus protection and treatment.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler: Dr. Crumpler was the first Black woman in America to earn a medical degree. After completing her degree in 1864, she focused on treating Black communities, poor communities, and formerly enslaved people. Her work encouraged more Black Americans to seek medical training.
Mary Kenner: Kenner was a lifelong inventor. In 1957, she received a patent for her invention of the sanitary belt, used to hold sanitary napkins in place before adhesive pads were invented. This revolutionary product excited companies, but once they found out she was Black they declined to work with her. Although she never achieved the notoriety she deserved, her inventions paved the way for modern menstrual products.