Statement From State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett On Delivering the 2022 Alexander. D. Langmuir Lecture At CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS)

"Undoing the Racial Patterning of Health" Presentation Available Here

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 9, 2022) - "It was an honor to deliver the Alexander D. Langmuir Lecture at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) conference on May 4th to discuss the centrality of race and ethnicity in the patterns of health across the United States.

Racism contributes to our nation's performance in the COVID-19 pandemic, and it also predates it. History shows us that it is racism – and not 'race' – that patterns health. Only in examining all the ways in which racial discrimination drives and deters healthy outcomes can we reverse course and promote health strategies that reach every community.

At the New York State Department of Health, it is our vision to build a healthier, more equitable State by centering racial equity across all of the work that we do. I asked public health leaders nationwide to join us in thinking boldly and loudly about racism. After 400 years, it will not be easy to undo the racial patterning of health, but it can be done. We must invest in education and training, advance data collection and methods, draw sounder interpretations that change narratives, and design targeted, community-based interventions, programming, and policy.

Health inequities are not an accidental by-product of a broken system. They are the direct result of a system working as it was designed. This system spans the entirety of government, and all public officials must work collaboratively to address the ways in which race does, but should no longer, determine health outcomes. We must not shirk these responsibilities because they are too big, but meet them fully because it is necessary to do our jobs competently. Our highest authority is the people we serve, and every one of them has the right to their highest attainable health."