The American Medical Association has recognized racism as an urgent threat to public health.

The professional association represents tens of thousand of doctors.

It is pledging to work on dismantling racist policies and practices in health care.

“The AMA recognizes that racism negatively impacts and exacerbates health inequities among historically marginalized communities. Without systemic and structural-level change, health inequities will continue to exist, and the overall health of the nation will suffer,” said AMA Board Member Willarda V. Edwards, MD, MBA.

Marginalized communities in the U.S. tend to have shorter lifespans, more chronic illness, higher maternal and infant mortality, and less access to care, said the AMA.

The AMA plans to create a set of best practices to mitigate the impacts of racism on patients and providers.

The AMA’s commitments include things like support of ending the practice of using race as a proxy for biology or genetics in medical education, research and clinical practice, and supporting research that promotes antiracist strategies to mitigate algorithmic bias in medicine.

“As physicians and leaders in medicine, we are committed to optimal health for all, and are working to ensure all people and communities reach their full health potential,” Dr. Edwards said. “Declaring racism as an urgent public health threat is a step in the right direction toward advancing equity in medicine and public health, while creating pathways for truth, healing, and reconciliation.”