Madison officials, local health organizations call racism ‘public health crisis,’ commit to action

The Dane County Health Council is joining the Wisconsin Public Health Association’s resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis and is signing on to solutions to fix the issue.

In a news release, the Dane County Health Council said African Americans and Native Americans in Wisconsin have the highest excess death rates, and infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic black women are the highest in the nation. It claims black people living in Dane County cite “persistent, unchanging racial economic inequities” as reasons for this disparity.

By endorsing the MPHA resolution, the Dane County Health Council said it is committing to a number of actions to help solve the issue, including advocating for policies to improve health in communities of color, create organizations that have anti-racism as a core value and build relationships with organizations that are confronting racism.

Madison city officials are praising the decision. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the action is “absolutely appropriate and essential.”

” The daily experiences of racial bias paired with deeply embedded structures and systems of racist practices are a significant health threat to our communities of color,” said Rhodes-Conway. “And we know [current efforts being done by Public Health Madison & Dane County and the city] are not sufficient to address this crisis—that’s why it’s critical the Dane County Health Council members indicate their understanding and support of this declaration.”

County Executive Joe Parisi is also supporting the declaration.

” Economic insecurity, access to affordable housing, culturally aligned healthcare–these are all areas where people of color experience injustice,” he said. “As a county, we need everyone to be on board with impacting these areas—the private sector, government, nonprofits, foundations, organizations. Signing this declaration is one more way of opening the door to collaboration.”

The Dane County Health Council is encouraging other organizations across Wisconsin to commit to action.

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