City Council resolution to declare racism a public health threat

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Sep. 8—ANDERSON — A resolution to be considered by the Anderson City Council would declare racism a public health threat.

The council will consider the resolution at 7 p.m. Thursday in a meeting that will be available to local residents via Zoom.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, reaffirmed, and cast in sharp relief the emergency nature of these pre-existing inequities caused by systemic racism," the resolution reads.

Councilwoman Rebecca Crumes, D-at large, said the resolution was brought by the Black Nurses Association.

"One of the goals is to eliminate health care disparities," she said. "We want to bring awareness to the things that can be done. It needs leadership."

Crumes said the resolution also addresses systemic racism.

"There has to be a community effort throughout the county," she said. "We can work with the county health department and have a discussion on some of the problems."

The resolution calls for the mayor's office to work in partnership with the Madison County Health Department and all city departments to work to implement eight strategies to combat racism as a public health crisis.

Stephenie Mellinger, administrator with the health department, said Wednesday one of her goals for the next year is to address health inequities in Madison County.

"Health inequities are an issue in Madison County," she said. "I want to work with the Madison County Minority Health Coalition. Everyone deserves to have access to health care. Health care-related issues need to be addressed."

Included in her goals is to address prenatal care, low birth weight babies, vaccinations and other health indicators.

Here are the eight points of the resolution:

—Develop policies to dismantle systemic racism.

—Develop a plan to address the cause of inequities.

—Identify problems and solutions for those historically not receiving adequate health care.

—Provide data that documents health care inequities in Anderson and Madison County.

—Collect data to understand the impact of racism on local health, including jobs, housing, transportation and education.

—Focus on meeting the needs of the community.

—Develop direct programs to address the negative impact of racism on health care.

—Advocate for state and federal funding to combat systemic racism.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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