NYC board of health passes resolution calling racism a ‘public health crisis’

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene passed a resolution Monday declaring racism “a public health crisis.”

The resolution was passed by an 11-member board of health, made up of appointees who were largely chosen by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to the New York Post.

The resolution asks the Health Department to expand its anti-racism work and requires it to create priorities for a racially just recovery from COVID-19.

In April, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, declared “racism is a serious public health threat.”

The CDC created an interactive map that shows 217 localities across the United States, at either the state, city, county, or county board level, have declared racism a public health crisis or emergency.

As part of the approved resolution, the health department developed a nine-point action plan for moving forward on the newly declared public health crisis.

Actions included in the resolution seek to bolster the department’s reporting of race and ethnicity data, add “an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code,” and obligate the department of health to “participate in a truth and reconciliation process with communities harmed by these actions when possible.”

The nine-point plan also asked the department to listen and consider changes related to eradicating “structural racism within policies, plans and budgets related to all determinants of health (transportation, education, housing, land-use and siting, economic opportunities, civic participation and healthcare delivery contexts).”

“Now we are in another crucible, another pandemic in which suffering is not born equally,” the department’s commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said. Chokshi added that traditionally there’s been a “catastrophic combustibility of historical patterns of injustice, particularly structural racism, intersecting with disease.”


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