As studies have proven, black women have less access to health care in Brazil. Surveys conducted by respected institutions like the Institute of Economic Research (IPEA – Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica) show that they lack specific policies for them and access to tests and procedures is more restricted. To discuss the issue, the Brazilian Union of Women (UBM – União Brasileira de Mulheres) are promoting the seminar “Combating Discrimination and Exclusion of Black Women in Access to Health Care”.
The event takes place in the eastern zone of São Paulo (SP) on Sunday (15), between 3pm and 6:30pm. The seminar will also be presented in the city of Guarulhos (state of São Paulo), on April 28, at the Xikelela Reference Center for Black Culture and Racial Equality between 9am and 12:30pm. The purpose of the discussions is to improve the quality of care in the public health system.
According to data of the 3rd edition of the study Portrait of Inequalities of Gender and Race, black women have less access to tests such as clinical breast examination. Nationally, 36.4% of women 25 years or older have never had a clinical breast exam. Among white women the proportion is 28.7%, among black women the proportion rises to 46.3%. And this inequality also remains if the sample is taken from women with over 12 years of study: 10.5% of white women with this level of education have not had this test while 18% of black women in this education bracket have never had a clinical breast examination.
Inequalities in quality of care related to discriminatory practices also affect other aspects of the Unified Health System (SUS – Sistema Único de Saúde). This fact is recognized by the Ministry of Health, from statistical and scientific data that show how major diseases can affect blacks. Data from the 2000 Census counted 36 million black women in the country. For a better treatment to the specificities of black women, respecting their cultural uniqueness, technical areas of women’s health have incorporated strategies.
Hypertension begins early in the black population. In Brazil, the syndromes caused by hypertension are the leading cause of maternal mortality, one third of deaths. Studies have shown that the mortality rate because of hypertensive disorders is nearly six times higher for black women than for white women.
Black women are 50% more likely to develop diabetes than whites. And there is one aggravating factor: diabetics are twice as likely to also suffer from hypertension when comparing the general population.
In the case of maternal deaths in black women, the main reasons are linked to biological predisposition for certain diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. This is directly related to the difficulty of access to health care and lack of actions and training of health professionals aimed at the specific risks of this racial group.
Sickle cell anemia is the most common genetic disease in the country with the highest prevalence in the black population and it has a high mortality rate.
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