Boston Public Health Commission’s Dr. Barbara Ferrer Speaks on Health Inequities
On Friday, Boston Public Health Commission Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer addressed the Health Law and Policy Forum sponsored by Health Law Advocates. In her presentation, “Taking Action to Eliminate Health Inequities,” Dr. Ferrer discussed the impact of racism on health and health inequity.
Citing work by Dr. Camara Jones of the Centers for Disease Control, Ferrer described how institutional, personally mediated, and internalized racism play a role in the existence of health disparities. Dr. Ferrer described one of the most notable health disparities linked to racism, infant mortality. In the city of Boston black babies are two to four times as likely to die as white babies in the first year of life. This disparity holds true even after accounting for education, income, smoking, drinking and prenatal care.
Dr. Ferrer stated that all forms of racism must be addressed in order to eliminate health disparities. In order to do this, she recommended training the workforce to create a non-racist work environment. Ferrer also noted the importance of addressing racial gaps in access to quality education, housing, safe recreation spaces, availability of affordable foods, and other resources that improve health.