On Thursday (April 8), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled racism as a “serious public health threat,” becoming the biggest health agency in the nation to do so.
In its labeling, the agency said that racism is a “fundamental” cause of “health inequities, health disparities and disease.”
The agency also announced its plan to address the problem, unveiling the launch of its latest initiative, Racism and Health.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Time Magazine this initiative isn’t the first program the agency has created to acknowledge the real impact race has on health outcomes, but it has a different purpose given the real disparities COVID-19 has exacerbated.
“The word racism is intentional in this [initiative] for the CDC. 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,” Walensky said, according to multiple reports.
The director added that the CDC would be addressing racism across the entire agency.
“It has to be baked into the cake; it’s got to be part of what everybody is doing,” she said.
In the last year, several other health groups, including the American Medical Association, have identified racism as a public health threat, underscoring the push within public health and medicine to address racism’s impact on historically oppressed groups.
“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,” the initiative’s website says.
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