Dean Julio Frenk released a statement to the Harvard School of Public Health community on the commitment of the School to uncovering health inequities and educating leaders to address them.
He cited example of inequities documented in public health research, including:
- African Americans and Native Americans have higher age-specific death rates than whites throughout most of the life course.
- Pacific Islanders and some economically disadvantaged Hispanic and Asian population groups have elevated rates of illness compared to whites for multiple conditions.
- Even after controlling for education, socioeconomic status, and other conditions that signal “lack of privilege,” on average African American adults have worse health than whites.
- African Americans have the highest age-adjusted mortality rates among all groups in the U.S. While gaps in life expectancy and adult and infant mortality have narrowed in recent decades, they remain large and persistent. And in some areas, such as maternal mortality, the gaps are widening.
- African Americans are less likely to be offered the latest health care treatments for conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression when compared to whites.
- Self-reported experiences of discrimination are a psychosocial stressor that adversely affects physical and mental health and contributes to racial and ethnic disparities in health.
Dean Frenk wrote, “As a community dedicated to issues of public health, we must persist in our scholarly and professional work so that we can contribute to the amelioration of ongoing disparities and the improvement of health conditions. As a School, we are committed to educating leaders who will address the health challenges posed by racism and all forms of exclusion. We look forward to working with all members of our community to design, generate, and implement an innovative educational and research agenda that leads to truly enlightened social transformation to advance health for all.”
Read the full statement