Dane Co. Health Council commits to action on racism, declares public health crisis

Published: Sep. 24, 2019 at 9:36 AM CDT
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The Dane County Health Council recently signed onto a statewide resolution stating racism is a public health crisis.

More than 20 organizations have signed onto the Wisconsin Public Health Association's (WPHA) resolution.

In July, the WPHA encouraged others to confront racism in their communities. The resolution is coordinated in partnership with the UW‐Population Health Institute’s Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) Group and other organizations.

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The resolution states race is a social construction with no biologic basis and causes consistent racial discrimination in housing, education, employment, and criminal justice. According to the resolution there have been more than 100 studies that have linked racism to worse health outcomes.

On Tuesday, the Dane County Health Council and its member organizations announced they are committing to a number of actions that will confront and address disparate conditions, including:

  • Working to create equitable and just organizations that incorporate anti-racism principles.
  • Integrate efforts to dismantle racism and expand the understanding of how racism affects individual and population health.
  • Advocating for policies that improve health in communities of color while also encouraging individual advocacy.
  • Working to build partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism.

“Framing racism as a public health crisis is absolutely appropriate, and essential,” said Satya Rhodes-Conway, mayor of the city of Madison. “The daily experiences of racial bias paired with deeply embedded structures and systems of racist practices are a significant health threat to our communities of color. As Public Health Madison & Dane County and the city of Madison, we respond to crises. We use racial equity and social justice tools to assess new policies, procedures, and projects. We partner with racial equity education organizations. We review our hiring practices with a racial equity lens. We strive to include community voice in city planning processes. And we know these actions are not sufficient to address this crisis—that’s why it’s critical the Dane County Health Council members indicate their understanding and support of this declaration.”

As of September 18, 2019, the following organizations have signed onto the Racism is a Public Health Crisis in Wisconsin Declaration:

  • Access Community Health Centers
  • AES Consulting Firm
  • Dane County Health Council
  • Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
  • healthTIDE
  • Kids Forward
  • Madison Metropolitan School District
  • Maroon Calabash
  • Meadowood Health Partnership
  • Milwaukee County
  • Milwaukee Men’s Health Referral Network
  • Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH), UW Population Health Institute
  • Public Health Madison and Dane County
  • SSM Health – St. Mary’s Hospital
  • UBUNTU Research & Evaluation
  • United Way of Dane County
  • Unity Point Health – Meriter
  • University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
  • UW Health
  • Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
  • Wisconsin Mujer, LLC
  • Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA)