NYC declares racism a public health crisis, passes anti-racism resolutions 

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The New York City Board of Health declared racism a public health crisis Oct. 18 and requested the health department expand its anti-racism work through a series of resolutions. 

"To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis,” Health Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi, MD, said in a release. "The COVID-19 pandemic magnified inequities, leading to suffering disproportionately borne by communities of color in our City and across our nation. But these inequities are not inevitable. Today is an historic day for the country’s oldest Board of Health to officially recognize this crisis and demand action."

Key directives for the health department:

1. Research, clarify, and acknowledge examples of its historic role in divesting and underinvesting in community-led health programs, and participate in the reconciliation process with harmed communities.

2. Establish a Data for Equity internal working group to ensure the agency applies an intersectional, anti-racism equity lens to public health data and provide annual guidance to other agencies on best practices.

3. Make recommendations on anti-racism, health-related NYC Charter revisions to the newly established Mayoral Racial Justice Commission.

4. Continue collaborations with sister agencies to report on fatalities, injuries, health conditions, by race, gender, and other demographics, to improve data quality and care.

5. Perform an anti-racism review of the NYC Health Code with relevant community agencies. 

6. Partner with city agencies and relevant organizations to advise on assessments of structural racism within policies.

7. Report twice each year to the Board of Health to promote the work associated with this resolution and to ensure Health Department accountability on progress.

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