Three Steps to Improving Data to Help Combat the Public Health Emergency of Structural Racism

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black people, more than 20 cities, at least 3 states, the American Public Health Association, and the American Medical Association have declared racism a public health emergency. The Urban Institute reports that public health data glaringly highlight these disparities. The maternal mortality rate is three times higher for Black women than for white women, a reality that could worsen under COVID-19. And the average life expectancy for Black people is four years lower than for white people, in part because of medical racism and police targeting of Black communities. In their statements, jurisdictions note that such declarations encourage doctors, public officials, and communities to center racial health disparities in their collaborative work. But a surprising amount of national data, especially at granular levels, are not disaggregated by race or ethnicity. To tackle racism as a public health emergency, the field needs to address limitations in health data, such as morbidity and disease prevalence, and the social determinants of health, such as employment, wealth, education, and housing. Advocates, researchers, policymakers, health professionals, and others should work together to fill information gaps to disrupt how structural oppression operates. The first step to doing so is disaggregating data by race and ethnicity to enable access to key data to inform public policy decisions that can transform lives. Here are three ways to advance this goal. #racialequity #covid-19

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