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Washtenaw County Board of Health names racism a public health crisis

New resolution confirms collective commitment to health equity

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YPSILANTI, Mich. – On Tuesday, the Washtenaw County Board of Health passed a resolution naming racism as a public health crisis throughout the county.

In the resolution, the Board of Health made a collective commitment to health equity and to sharing power, decision-making processes and resources with communities of color most impacted by health disparities.

“We know that racism has helped drive unequal economic, cultural, and medical circumstances that each, and in concert, lead to poorer health outcomes for people of color throughout America,” Board of Health Chair James J. Carty said in a statement. “The only way to change this is to acknowledge it and center it as we try to learn from the mistakes of our past and build a better community where all residents of Washtenaw County are served fairly and equally.”

The resolution was the result of the June 26 Board of Health meeting where members agreed to take action. It states that the Washtenaw County Health Department has found growing health disparities within the county and outlines factors including differences in life expectancy and exacerbated impacts from the COVID-19 crisis.

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The board’s resolution commits it to partner with community members, organizations and leaders in engaging in anti-racist actions while addressing and solving community-defined problems. It will also support the utilization of Washtenaw County Health Department resources to work with social movements for racial justice.

A commitment was made for an annual review and assessment of progress towards internal policies, practices, procedures, strategic goals and budget allocations which impact racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

Read the full resolution here.

Health equity is a key strategic initiative within the 2020-2024 Washtenaw County Health Department strategic plan.

The Washtenaw County Board of Health is comprised of 10 appointed members who work to identify public health problems, concerns in the community, establish health priorities and advise the Board of Commissioners and Health Department.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.