Trust for America’s Health’s (TFAH) Board Chair, Gail Christopher, D.N., and President and CEO, J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., MSCE, released the following statement in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing.
(Washington, D.C. – January 17, 2022)
“Today’s observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and tomorrow’s National Day of Racial Healing is a time to take action on the work that needs to be done to end racism, heal the impacts of centuries of racial injustice, and promote equity for all people.
Structural racism has far-reaching impacts on people’s health, education, employment and economic opportunities, access to safe and affordable housing, access to transportation, access to high quality healthcare, and their treatment within the criminal justice system.
Our goal is to advance policies and actions that will create meaningful change, including addressing social inequities and promoting racial healing. Dismantling racism is a public health imperative. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within communities of color is the most current example of the ways in which structural racism continues to have consequential and often tragic impacts on people’s lives.
TFAH is committed to continuing its work to advocate for policies that overcome the impacts of racism and advance health equity. Meaningful change will require racial healing which will in turn necessitate acknowledging the historic and contemporary impacts of racism, reframing the narrative, and building relationships across communities.”
TFAH calls for the following actions to reverse the impact of structural racism in America:
- Make advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities a national priority. Such a priority requires ending systemic barriers and advancing policies and programs that create equitable opportunity for health and well-being.
- Target the elimination of poverty by increasing the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit at the national and state levels.
- Increase funding for programs that address health inequities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) and Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country programs.
- Recruit and sustain a diverse public health workforce through public health workforce loan repayment and support the hiring of public health equity experts through investments in public health infrastructure and workforce.
- Increase access to high-quality healthcare for all by strengthening incentives to expand Medicaid in all states and by making marketplace coverage more affordable for low-and moderate-income people.
- Create a national standard mandating job-protected paid family and medical leave for all employees.
- Increase funding for programs that promote long-term security and good health for children and families, including programs designed to expand access to affordable housing and Head Start, Early Head Start, and nutrition support programs such as Healthy School Meals for All, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
- Funding agencies should meaningfully engage with historically underserved communities to best understand their needs and work with community leaders to co-lead teams that establish, lead, and evaluate programs.
- Federal and state governments should act to protect voting rights for all.
For more information about these and other policy recommendations see TFAH reports A Blueprint for the 2021 Administration and Congress – The Promise of Good Health for All: Transforming Public Health in America. And Leveraging Evidence-Based Policies to Improve Health, Control Costs, and Create Health Equity