“Where Inclusion & Diversity Meet The Health Professions”
When History Is Our Lesson
History serves as a lesson only when we learn from it. In 1918, the world experienced a horrific flu pandemic. Close to 500 million people became infected; deaths were estimated as at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of this writing, nearly 5 million of over 7 billion people have been infected by a flu-like virus called COVID-19; one and half million cases have been reported in the United States alone (Johns Hopkins University). The demographics of those affected in the year-long 1918 pandemic were said to be very similar to those now. Hauntingly, there were no vaccines then, as there are no failsafe vaccines to administer now. The 1918 world population experienced the pandemic in three waves, and if recommended strategies are not adhered to, and no vaccine found, current scientists predict the same with COVID. Our human behavior has been altered as a public health strategy to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the absence of a scientific solution in the form of a vaccine. The current state of affairs magnifies the need for us to realize, it’s not what’s happening externally that determines our lives, but how we respond to what’s happening.
Our medical scientists, in collaboration with public health experts, must have the authority to determine solutions to the 2020 infectious disease pandemic. The 1918 pandemic provides an epidemiological and strategic window, but only if we study and learn from its historical lesson. Present and future resources must continue to support medical education and research, as the recipients serve as the linchpin for maintaining the health and well-being of our society.
In the current volume of the Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity, articles range from pipeline programs for entry into medicine to health professionals’ development to highlighting a specific career in mental health. I encourage members of the National Association of Minority Educators (NAMME), Inc., to read this volume from cover to cover and reflect upon its content and research findings, allowing the information to advance your understanding and application of medical and health professions strategies and models. History can happen in minutes, but its lessons can last for generations when we learn from them!
Charles N. Collier, Jr., MS