Race in healthcare
I recently listened to a Ted Talk regarding the disparity between race and access to quality healthcare. Dr. Mary Bassett a medical doctor who is presently the director of FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University clearly explained the problem that people of color have in obtaining quality healthcare.
The reason for writing about this is that Dr. Bassett was concerned about precision medicine a.k.a. functional medicine and the use of genetic testing. She was concerned that genetic testing will be used in healthcare decisions without considering the person’s access of healthy foods, environment and other social and economic issues.
Dr. Bassett is highly qualified and has impressive background in this subject. As a practitioner of functional medicine I would like to explain use of genetic testing. Genetic testing is one aspect of assessing chronic health issues. It is background information similar to the way doctors use large studies that highlight certain factors such as ethnic background, gender, age and an infinite other factors in determining the incidence of a particular disease. Both of which are considered as background information in assessing a health issue.
I have written numerous articles regarding phenotype versus genotype. In other words what your genes have encoded versus your present health state. All genes whether health promoting or risk factors for disease are not always turned on. . In functional medicine the environment is paramount. This is what dictates health versus disease. I see genetic testing as risk factors that can be suppressed if it is disease promoting or turned on to promote health. The environment are all the factors that Dr. Bassett discussed causing the disparity between people of color and quality healthcare. I and all the other doctors who practice functional medicine are in complete agreement with Dr. Bassett in the often unhealthy environment of people of color.
Before the cracking of the human genome and the beginning of understanding of gene function, genetic counseling was concerned with diseases that are genetically linked as a determinant factor of future health. In fact most genetically linked diseases occur early in life. With the beginnings of understanding of our genome and how environmental factors affect their expression, genetic counseling must be reformed.