Racism and Health Equity- CDC Multiple Reports
Velandy Manohar, MD.,
Distinguished Life Fellow, Am. Psychiatric Association
CDC Director Declares Racism A 'Serious Public Health Threat' : NPR
CDC Director Declares Racism A 'Serious Public Health Threat'
April 8, 20216:41 PM ET
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, seen last week at FEMA mass vaccination site in Boston, said Thursday that the CDC is taking steps to address the impact of racism on public health.
Racism is a scourge in American society. It's also a serious public health threat, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a statement released Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky pointed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, as seen in case numbers, deaths and social consequence.
"Yet, the disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19," Walensky said. "Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism."
"What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans," she added. "As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community. These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color."
The result, she says, are stark health disparities that have mounted over generations.
So, what does it mean for the agency? Walensky has charged all of the offices and centers under the CDC to develop interventions and measurable health outcomes in the next year, addressing racism in their respective areas. And she's made clear that is a priority for the entire CDC.
The CDC also launched a new web portal, Racism and Health, that's designed to be a hub for public and scientific information and discourse on the subject.
The site notes that racism, in both its structural and interpersonal forms, has a negative effect on mental and physical health.
And Walensky isn't trying to avoid hard conversations.
"The word racism is intentional in this [initiative] for the CDC," she told Time magazine. "This is not just about the color of your skin but also about where you live, where you work, where your children play, where you pray, how you get to work, the jobs you have. All of these things feed into people's health and their opportunities for health."
The CDC committed to continuing to study how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions accordingly. It will expand its investments in minority and other disproportionately affected communities to create "durable infrastructure" to address disparities.
"It has to be baked into the cake," Walensky told Time. "It's got to be part of what everybody is doing."
Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Racism and Health | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
Media Statement from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, on Racism and Health
Released Thursday April 8th, 2021.
Contact: Media Relations
Today, Rochelle P. Walensky MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), declared racism a serious public health threat. Adding action to words, she highlighted several new efforts CDC is leading to accelerate its work to address racism as a fundamental driver of racial and ethnic health inequities in the United States. She also unveiled a new website “Racism and Health” that will serve as a hub for the agency’s efforts and a catalyst for greater education and dialogue around these critical issues.
Statement from Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the death of over 500,000 Americans. Tens of millions have been infected. And across this country people are suffering. Importantly, these painful experiences and the impact of COVID-19 are felt, most severely, in communities of color—communities that have experienced disproportionate case counts and deaths, and where the social impact of the pandemic has been most extreme.
Yet, the disparities seen over the past year were not a result of COVID-19. Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism.
What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans. As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community. These social determinants of health have life-long negative effects on the mental and physical health of individuals in communities of color.
Over generations, these structural inequities have resulted in stark racial and ethnic health disparities that are severe, far-reaching and unacceptable.
As the nation’s leading public health agency, CDC has a critical role to play to address the impact of racism on public health.
• We will continue to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, expand the body of evidence on how racism affects health, and propose and implement solutions to address this.
• With COVID-19 funding, we are making new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country, establishing a durable infrastructure that will provide the foundation and resources to address disparities related to COVID-19 and other health conditions.
• We are expanding our internal agency efforts to foster greater diversity and create an inclusive and affirming environment for all.
• We are launching our new web portal “Racism and Health” as part of our ongoing commitment to serve as a catalyst for public and scientific discourse around racism and health, and to be accountable for our progress.
Confronting the impact of racism will not be easy. I know that we can meet this challenge. I know that we can create an America where all people have the opportunity to live a healthy life when we each take responsibility and work together. I am committed to this work. I certainly hope you will lean in and join me.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether disease start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, or from human activity or deliberate attack, CDC responds to America’s most pressing health threats. CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and has experts located throughout the United States and the world.
Racism and Health | Health Equity | CDC
Confronting the impact of racism will not be easy…I know that we can do this if we work together. I certainly hope you will lean in and join me.
Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH
Director, CDC, and Administrator, ATSDR
Racism is a Serious Threat to the Public’s Health
Racism is a system pdf icon[224 MB, 16 Pages]external icon—consisting of structures, policies, practices, and norms—that assigns value and determines opportunity based on the way people look or the color of their skin. This results in conditions that unfairly advantage some and disadvantage others throughout society.
Racism—both interpersonal and structural external icon—negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation.
A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.
The data show that racial and ethnic minority groups, throughout the United States, experience higher rates of illness and death across a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts. Additionally, the life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minority populations is another stark example of these enduring health disparities.
Racism also deprives our nation and the scientific and medical community of the full breadth of talent, expertise, and perspectives pdf icon[1.5 MB, 208 Pages]external icon needed to best address racial and ethnic health disparities.
To build a healthier America for all, we must confront the systems and policies that have resulted in the generational injustice that has given rise to racial and ethnic health inequities. We at CDC want to lead in this effort—both in the work we do on behalf of the nation’s health and the work we do internally as an organization.
Learn more about the Impact of Racism on our Nation’s Health >>
CDC’s Commitment to Addressing Racism as an Obstacle to Health Equity
At CDC, we are committed to ensuring every person has the opportunity to live a healthy life. To that end, CDC—as the nation’s leading public health agency—has established this web portal, “Racism and Health” to serve as a hub for our activities, promote a public discourse on how racism negatively affects health and communicate potential solutions. Working with the broader public health community, we will serve as a catalyst to further investigate the impact of racism on health and efforts to achieve health equity for all.
Impact of Racism on our Nation’s Health | Health Equity | CDC
Impact of Racism on our Nation’s Health
Racism, both structural and interpersonalexternal icon, are fundamental causes of health inequities, health disparities and disease. The impact of these inequities on the health of Americans is severe, far-reaching, and unacceptable.
Across the country, racial and ethnic minority populations experience higher rates of poor health and disease in a range of health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, and heart disease, when compared to their White counterparts. The life expectancy among Black/African Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact among communities of color, is another stark example of these enduring health disparities. Recent COVID-19 data show that Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native populations in the U.S. are experiencing higher rates of hospitalization and death compared to White populations.
These health disparities underscore the urgent need to address systemic racism as as a root cause of racial and ethnic health inequities and a core element of our public health efforts. Velandy Manohar,MD.