NYC Board of Health declares racism a public health crisis

NYC Board of Health declares racism a public health crisis
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The New York City Board of Health on Monday declared racism a public health crisis. 

The Board adopted a resolution on Monday acknowledging the work that has been done to “address the health impacts of racism” in the city.

The resolution calls on the NYC Health Department to expand that work to develop a “racially just recovery from COVID-19 and other actions – including resource allocation – to address this public health crisis in the short and long-term.” 

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NYC Health Commissioner Dave Choski said in a statement that the pandemic “magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across our nation.” 

Last year, the NYC Health Department informally acknowledged that racism was a public health crisis amid nationwide outcry sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

“In NYC, Black and Brown communities face the disproportionate impact, grief and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of the trauma of state sanctioned violence,” the department said at the time. 

Monday’s resolution was meant to formalize last year’s acknowledgement by calling for the agency to take a series of steps to address racism.

Among the steps, the declaration calls on the agency to create a Data for Equity internal working group that would advise other city agencies on applying an “equity lens” to public health data.

The resolution also calls on the agency to work with relevant city agencies to advise on “assessments of structural racism” within its policies and plans and make recommendations to mitigate harm. 

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Approximately 217 state and local governments have declared racism a public health crisis, according to a tracker from the American Public Health Association.  

Last November, the American Medical Association acknowledged that racism was a “serious threat to public health,” and adopted new policies tackling the impact of racism on health care.

In May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) became the largest federal agency to declare racism a “serious public health threat,” noting the that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic had been felt most severely in communities of color.