I have no words to describe the year 2020 thus far. If no one has told you lately, thank you so much for all your hard work and dedication to protecting the public’s health during this uncertain time. Prior to the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the US and Ohio, our public health system was working behind the scenes to ensure that we’re keeping our communities as safe as possible. This response has challenged our capacity and highlighted how poorly funded our public health infrastructure is in Ohio. Yet, our numerous public health officials have responded and continue to respond to this threat. Thank you to my public health colleagues who are working diligently to keep day to day services available and public health protections in place for our communities and most vulnerable populations. I’m so very proud to be a part of public health in Ohio and to have the opportunity to lead the Ohio Public Health Association with our executive board and governing council.
As I’m writing this, the Kentucky grand jury just announced the charges that will be brought forth in the murder of Breonna Taylor. Racism is a public health crisis. We in public health see the impacts of structural and institutional racism daily. Whether it’s the fact that our black babies and black mothers die at more than twice the rate as their white counterparts; or the 1980’s crack cocaine epidemic where our black brothers and sisters saw long prison sentences and now in the present day with the predominantly white users we are offering rehab and treatment in lieu of mass incarceration. Your governing council is in the process of approving a Racism is A Public Health Crisis statement and is committed to the hard work that comes with making this declaration. The first action step will be to have an independent review of all internal policies and procedures. We must ensure our own house in order to be successful in our external advocacy. I will be providing updates on this work in the upcoming President’s messages to ensure accountability to our members as we move through this process.
Thank you again for your continued membership, support and commitment to OPHA. Now more than ever we must continue our mission to be the inclusive voice of public health in Ohio.
Take care and be well,