Government Health & Environment

Boston City Council Wants to Focus on Public Health

Councilor Ed Flynn wants to help Boston close the gap when it comes to public health disparities in the city’s communities of color. 

At a recent city council meeting, Flynn requested a hearing regarding the issue. 

“Public health is very important to our residents,” he said. “People of color have troubling health conditions at a higher risk than white residents.” 

According to the Boston Public Health Commission, black and Latino residents experience higher rates of low birth weights, infant mortality, asthma, emergency department visits, obesity, hypertension, HIV, diabetes and other health issues compared to white residents.

Asian residents are less likely to complete mammograms, pap tests and colonoscopies. Also, a lower percentage of Asian students report being physically active compared to white students.

Flynn stated that Chinatown residents are exposed to more vehicle pollution than anyone else in the Commonwealth.

Flynn wants to create a “robust” public education campaign about various health issues and how to seek medical care.

“Every resident has the same level of healthcare regardless of your zip code or social status,” he said.

Councilor Kim Janey agreed with Flynn. 

“Communities of color are hit really hard,” she said. “We need to do more as a city to close these gaps.”

Janey said that when residents are healthy, they are more productive and contribute more to the community, so it behooves the city to focus on the health of residents. 

“We know too many residents rely on the ER for their primary care and that is problematic,” Janey said. 

Janey also wants to focus on the implicit bias some doctors have. 

“Doctors don’t listen when they talk about pain and it gets dismissed,” Janey said about residents of color whose health concerns are often ignored by doctors or other medical professionals. 

Councilor Michelle Wu believes when the council makes new policies, they should think about how it will impact the public health.