UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Sunday, said that he had commissioned a review to ascertain whether Oximeters, used to check blood oxygen levels had an ‘inherent bias’ as per a research. The research, he said, had indicated that oximeters were less effective on people with darker skin.
He made the announcement in his writeup in Sunday Times.
“One of the founding principles of our NHS is equality, and the possibility that a bias — even an inadvertent one — could lead to a poorer health outcome is totally unacceptable,” he wrote, referring to Britain’s National Health Service.
“We urgently need to know more about the bias in these devices, and what impact it is having on the front line.
“So I have commissioned an independent review, looking at whether systematic bias exists within current devices, and if so, how we can address it.”
Javid, the son of Pakistani immigrants and the first person from an ethnic minority to hold the role of UK health secretary, said it would assess all medical devices, and other common biases aside from racial bias, such as gender.
He noted his interest in focusing on this issue came in part from seeing health disparities during the height of the coronavirus crisis last winter.
Then, black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups made up 28 percent of critical-care admissions in England — about double their representation in the population as a whole.
On international collaboration to tackle the issue, Javid said he had already discussed it with Becerra.
(With inputs from agencies)