Ohio Officials Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis

Franklin County, Ohio, which encompasses the state’s capital of Columbus and is the state’s largest county, has officially declared racism a public health crisis, according to CNN.

County commissioners passed the resolution on Tuesday:

“Nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of our residents,” John O’Grady, Franklin County Board of Commissioners president, said. “Our community’s success depends on all Franklin County residents being able to share in it, but right now we have a system that is resulting in different outcomes for people based on the color of their skin. That’s not acceptable.”

The resolution states that racism “rises to the definition of a public health crisis proposed by Dr. Sandro Galea,” a dean at Boston University School of Public Health. She defines a public health crisis as a problem that threatens health outcomes over a long period of time and impacts a large population.

Franklin County’s resolution points out 100 studies linking racism to poor health outcomes. The county is about 24 percent African American and 67.2 percent white.

The Board of Commissioners stated both racism and segregation “have also exacerbated a health divide resulting in Black residents having lower life expectancies than White residents.” 

The Franklin County Board of Health issued the same resolution a week ago. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners is now appealing to Ohio’s governor, the state’s Speaker of the House, and the Ohio Senate President to follow up with similar declarations.