LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 16: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Oprah … [+]
Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions partnered with The Smithsonian Channel on a documentary called The Color Of Care, which looks at the racial disparity in the United States healthcare system. The documentary exposed several inconsistencies that were illuminated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working to ultimately be viewed as a call-to-action, the piece pushes for the positive upheaval of the healthcare systems to serve all races throughout the U.S. The doc features numerous first-hand accounts of people who lost friends and family to COVID as well as medical frontline workers coupled with expert interviews and large swathes of statistical data presented to further prove the issues present.
During the release period of the film, Oprah said, “At the height of the pandemic, I read something that stopped me in my tracks,”
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 27: (L-R) Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia University Irving … [+]
Getty Images for Smithsonian Channel
“I read a story about Gary Fowler, a Black man who died in his home because no hospital would treat him despite his Covid-19 symptoms. As we continued to hear how the racial disparities in our country were exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic, I felt something needed to be done. This film is my way of doing something, with the intention that the stories we share serve as both a warning and foster a deeper understanding of what changes need to take place to better serve us all.”
Along with the programming, the project also launched a far-reaching campaign to start pivotal discussions, with actionable conclusions, with policymakers, medical and nursing schools, and healthcare workers to identify the issue as a genuine national crisis that urgently needs solutions.
“People of color have long endured the fatal consequences of racial health disparities, and the Covid-19 pandemic made these inequalities plain for all to see,” says James Blue, head of Smithsonian Channel and SVP of MTV Docs. “I hope our documentary event, The Color of Care, will be a catalyst for action.”
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Dr William Soliman, the founder and CEO of the Accreditation Council Of Medical Affairs (ACMA) opined:
“My parents immigrated to this country from Egypt with the dream of finding a better life for their children. Knowing that my parents came from nothing and worked their way up has helped inspire me to give back to the community and guides my work ethic.”
Dr Soliman is uniquely placed as someone who has been invited by and spoken with the U.S. Congress Health Subcommittee and the United States Attorney General Alliance about the ACMA and the importance of certification standards for medical affairs and medical science liaison professionals in the pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s important we raise the bar in our healthcare ecosystem. We must address the needs of everyone and we must desist from putting price tags on people’s lives based on some monetary and optical sense of value. We can do better. I’m glad the documentary highlights this.”
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Yance Ford, the piece follows numerous harrowing accounts of individuals trying to access life-saving healthcare before dying.
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 27: Oscar-nominated, Emmy award-winning filmmaker & director Yance Ford of … [+]
Getty Images for Smithsonian Channel
Oprah was asked by the Los Angeles Times about her biggest misconception of racial health disparities in the healthcare field before her work on the film and she said, “I think my biggest misconception was that it was about health insurance, that it was about having access financially, and if you didn’t have the money, then you couldn’t get the care that you needed. What COVID laid bare is that inequities in so many other areas of your life also contribute to the major disparity when it comes to healthcare.”
She later continued, “It’s more than just one film, it’s a moment to ignite a vital cultural conversation around this public health crisis. So it’s not just about the film. For me, it’s the Color of Care impact campaign, it’s a way to move this conversation forward, and actually champion some changes to hopefully eliminate racial disparities in the delivery of U.S. healthcare.”