Citing the need to address the root causes of disease and racial inequity, Chicago’s public health department unveiled Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four year public health policy vision for the city at a Chicago Cultural Center event Tuesday morning. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was not present at the event, though he had an empty public schedule. The 86-page document takes square aim at addressing health, housing, education, and transportation inequalities disproportionately affecting Chicagoans of color. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita, who introduced the plan, told the assembled crowd when it comes to health in Chicago, zip code matters more than genetics.
Morita was joined onstage by Dr. Mindy Fullilove, a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who spoke of the impact of the city’s racial “fracturing”, redlining, and the need to restore joy and equity in cities. “We must have a more holistic view of what it means to address health disparities, including an understanding that social conditions are the fundamental causes of disease,” Fullilove said in a press release. “The fractured city causes trauma and destroys joy,” she told the crowd Tuesday. “If you live in a high rise downtown, your life expectancy is 81 or 89 or 100 years, and if you live in the Cabrini Green area, your life expectancy is more like 69 or 50 or 14 years.”
“Data show that health inequities are wide and we must do more to eliminate the unjust differences in health that exist among Chicago communities and across the lines of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender identity and sexual orientation,” Mayor Emanuel said in the opening statement in the report.
1 in 2 African American and Hispanic children live in low child opportunity areas compared to 1 in 50 white children.
African Americans are 2.6 times more likely to be unemployed than whites.
Nearly a third of Chicagoans were living in high economic hardship in 2014.
3.5% of Chicago children under three years old have elevated blood lead levels – many of whom live in areas with very low child opportunity on the South, Southwest and South sides.
1 in 3 Hispanic adults does not have a primary care provider.
Washington Heights, Chatham, and West Garfield Park have infant mortality rates that are more than double the citywide rate.
The Department plans to tackle these, and a lofty 82 objectives by leveraging partnerships with more than 130 city and public partners over the next four years. There’s a resolution pending in City Council introduced by the Mayor that establishes a “Health in All Policies” initiative where officials would be encouraged to apply a health filter when making policy. The resolution also calls for establishment of a health task force.