Statement From State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett In Honor of Juneteenth

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 19, 2022) – "Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom and a chance for all of us to acknowledge our progress. But it is also an opportunity to recognize there’s still more we need to do. As a public health professional for over 40 years, I have seen the toll structural racism has taken on Black and Brown people, and the disparities in health outcomes that have resulted. These existing racial and ethnic health inequities were further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why, as the State’s Health Commissioner, I am determined to make sure health equity is at the core of all that we do. For our Department, it is about more than expanding access to health care in underserved communities, as important as that is. It is about making sure these communities have care providers whom they trust. Access is simply not enough to break centuries of mistrust that communities of color have in the health care system. We also need to address the health impacts created by decades of systemic racism. To realize this vision, health equity must be an unbroken thread woven through everything that the Department does and will continue to do.

Creating equity in health care is, like the fight for racial justice, an ongoing struggle. That is why I am grateful for the Juneteenth holiday. It gives us all an opportunity to celebrate and to reflect on the work before us.”