• 2020 Congress of Delegates

    Delegates Tackle Array of Public Health Issues

    October 19, 2020, 6:40 pm News Staff – With 12 resolutions up for discussion, family physician delegates who participated in the Reference Committee on Health of the Public and Science hearing had a full agenda of topics to discuss. The hearing, held Oct. 3 as part of this year's virtual Congress of Delegates, featured testimony from dozens of FPs across the country, many of whom spoke passionately about individual and public health issues such as race-based medicine, intimate partner violence and health care for transgender youth. The resolutions were then voted on by the Congress on Oct. 13.

    Speaking doctor shows a hologram of patient on a blurred background.

    Safe Driving Practices

    Delegates gave partial support to a resolution from the Vermont chapter on safe driving practices.

    The Congress voted to ask the Academy to support health care professionals in discussing safe driving practices with patients and their families, and in reporting concerns about public safety resulting from older driver impairment to the appropriate licensing agency.

    Adverse Childhood Experiences and COVID-19

    The Maryland and Texas chapters introduced a resolution directing the Academy to identify, produce and advocate for legislation that would fund evidence-based community programs and interventions aimed at preventing and reducing adverse childhood experiences.

    Following the insertion of amended language to address fiscal impacts and focus on the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reference committee recommended adoption of a substitute resolution, which the Congress adopted.

    Race-Based Medicine

    The Minnesota chapter introduced a resolution directing the AAFP to end the practice of using race as a proxy for biology or genetics in its educational materials and to create documents to guide speakers and contributors to AAFP-sponsored educational events about using race in their presentations.

    The resolution also tasked the Academy with developing or collaborating with other organizations to provide education for members on the harms associated with using race as a proxy for genetic or biological risk, and called for the AAFP to support the development of resources to assist members in evaluating their use of race in research and clinical practice.

    Most of the testimony in support of the resolution cited evidence showing that race is a social construct that varies between countries and can change over time. Other testimony mentioned the inappropriate use of race in certain risk assessments that could lead to patient harm. Conversely, some testimony in opposition to the resolution cited unintended consequences that could arise from removing race from discussions of disease risk and treatment.

    The reference committee expressed concerns about the potential lack of evidence for revising current risk calculations and the availability of mechanisms to incorporate social determinants of health into treatment considerations. In response, members provided amended language to reflect these uncertainties and to emphasize the need to remove inappropriate use of race as a genetic proxy. The Congress adopted the substitute resolution as amended.

    Other Issues

    Other action the Congress took included

    • adopting a substitute resolution calling for research on the effects of screening for intimate partner violence during public health emergencies and asking the AAFP to advocate for safe alternative housing for victims of IPV;
    • referring to the Board a resolution supporting the provision of gender-affirming health care for transgender youth;
    • referring to the Board of Directors a resolution in support of focusing federal policing funds on community resources and health care, and adopting a substitute resolution directing the Academy to develop a position paper on policing standards;
    • adopting a resolution in support of proven and humane effective alternatives to the detention of asylum seekers;
    • adopting a substitute resolution calling for the Academy to advocate for improved and comprehensive reproductive health care for individuals who are incarcerated or otherwise detained;
    • referring to the Board a resolution to support creation of a national bureau for firearm safety; and
    • adopting a substitute resolution emphasizing the use of scientific evidence and policy solutions regarding climate change and health.