Sunday, September 26, 2010
Boston Health Commission: Where you live matters for health equity
Following the work of other local health departments, such as Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Boston Public Health Commission has launched a program to address health disparities in the city's neighborhoods. A fancy web site, http://whatsyourhealthcode.com/, emphasizes that PLACE MATTERS for health. Unfortunately, only $150,000 is dedicated to this campaign and most of the "Take Action" suggestions do not give the reader any clues about how local, state and federal policies are largely to blame for health inequities and that new policies are needed to reverse these inequities. The Boston Public Health Commission's Center for Health Equity and Social Justice does have some more direct information and action items, including some excellent presentations on the relationships between structural racism and health. Planners and others can build all the community gardens, parks, sidewalks and bike lanes they want, but until we start getting serious about reversing the connections between racism, place and health, those built-environment strategies alone are not going to move society toward more healthy and equitable cities.