Standing Rock Two Years Later: Public Health Lessons and the Physician’s Responsibility

By | March 7, 2019

As physicians, we must educate ourselves on how profit-driven policies lead to specific diseases in the Native American patients we have the privilege to treat. To be sure, involuntary exposure to uranium is a root cause of suffering and disease in these communities. We have a responsibility to our patients to avail ourselves of this history that is taught in few- if any- medical school textbooks.

Above all else, this anniversary is a reminder of the power in mass mobilization to catalyze a movement that spurs headlines and support from all over the world. The water protectors at Standing Rock were a fraction away from halting the construction of DAPL, and they have not given up yet; two years later, thousands of water protectors struggle together, mostly unseen from the public’s eyes or the media’s attention. With the health consequences of these policies historically evident, it is time that more physicians join the struggle to protect the health of future generations.

Internist, Pediatrician, and Associate Professor at UCSF, Dr. Le is also the co-founder of two health equity organizations, the HEAL Initiative and Arc Health. This article originally appeared on Arc Health here