In my presentation I will discuss the Israeli case, including the recent position paper by the Israeli Ministry of Health Committee on Dealing with Racism in the Healthcare System. Medicine carries within it an inherent contradiction. On the one hand, given its general scientific inquiry into health and disease, their conditions, etiologies and treatments, it makes a claim for universality. On the other hand, contrary to its universalistic claims, it defines categories such as gender and race that have deep political and social meanings. Although inconsistent definition and use has been a chief problem with the race concept, it has historically been used as a categorization based on common hereditary traits (such as skin color) to elucidate the relationship between our ancestry and our genes. Some suggested that race as a scientific category – problematic at best and harmful at worst - should be eliminated in human genetic research. On the other hand, race as a social category is still used in a variety of research practices ranging from clinical trials and epidemiology to social sciences.
While a large body of research has been invaluable in advancing knowledge on how racism influences health inequities, it still locates the experiences of racism at the individual level. Yet the health of social groups is likely most strongly affected by structural, rather than individual, phenomena. The structural forms of racism and their relationship to health inequities remain under-studied. There is a need to deal with structural racism and the role of history, as well as other disciplines from humanities and social sciences, is crucial in order to deal with racism in the healthcare system in Israel and in other countries.