During humanitarian crises, medical teams must come to agreement on who receives what medical care. It is accepted practice that race NOT be a deciding factor in this decision making process. However, what happens when systemic racism predisposes certain groups to higher rates of diseases?

Communities of color have, for decades, not had equal access to quality health care, education, a clean environment, and healthy foods. Together, these increase risk of diseases such as diabeteshypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and asthma, all of which have been associated with severe illness and poor outcomes from COVID-19 infection.

Omitting race from the discussion of how medical care is triaged and delivered will harm communities of color the most. The current public health crisis offers an opportunity to re-imagine how decisions are made, and include BIPOC leaders in these discussions. The Naturopathic Alliance recommends this op-ed from the Oregonian as something all jurisdictions should consider when preparing for one of the worst decisions medical providers will ever have to make.


Talk with your government representatives about the importance of not amplifying systemic inequities through COVID-19 treatment triaging policy. Ask whether BIPOC representation has been included and heard through the development and implementation of these policies.


Laurie Menk Otto, ND, MPH lives and practices in Portland, OR. She is a member of the Naturopathic Alliance.