Sajid Javid has launched an investigation into medical gender and racial bias.
Even an inadvertent bias could lead to a poorer health outcome for some people, Javid said, which is “totally unacceptable.”
The Health Secretary has announced that the government will investigate racial and gender bias in medical devices.
Sajid Javid ordered the review after vowing to “close the chasms” exposed by the pandemic.
He called it “completely unacceptable” that even an unintentional bias could result in a negative health outcome for some people.
Mr Javid stated that he is “determined to bring a fresh perspective” to his role in government and “do whatever it takes” to address inequities, citing the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on black, Asian, and other minority ethnic groups.
“I want to make sure that the benefits of the incredible advances in technology and treatments we’ve seen in recent years are widely shared, so they help, not hinder, this work,” he wrote in The Sunday Times.
“It’s all too easy to look at a machine and assume everyone is having the same experience.
However, because technologies are created and developed by people, bias, however unintentional, can be an issue here as well.
“As a result, questions like who writes the code, how a product is tested, and who sits around the boardroom table are crucial – especially when it comes to our health.”
Mr Javid also mentioned research that suggests pulse oximeters, which are used to measure blood oxygen levels, are less accurate in patients with darker skin.
“Equality is one of the NHS’s founding principles, and the possibility that a bias – even an unintentional one – could lead to a poorer health outcome is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Last week, the Cabinet minister said he “watched with horror” the testimony of cricketers who had been victims of racism in the sport, and he talked about his own childhood experiences.
“The same word that was ludicrously dismissed as team-mate banter was used against me frequently as I grew up – and I can assure you, it’s not banter, it hurts,” he wrote.
“Although attitudes have thankfully changed significantly since then, too many people in this country still believe the odds are unfairly stacked against them.”
Mr. Javid, an independent, stated.
News summary from Infosurhoy in the United Kingdom.
Sajid Javid has launched an investigation into gender and racial bias in medicine.
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