NACDD Commends Georgia Legislative Action to Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis, Urges Other States to Maintain Focus on Anti-Racism


Contact: Paige Rohe (

ATLANTA (Feb. 17, 2021): The following is a statement from National Association of Chronic Disease Directors’ Chief Executive Officer John W. Robitscher, MPH:

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors commends recent state legislative action to declare racism a public health crisis. Currently, nine states, including NACDD’s home state of Georgia, are considering such declarations, acknowledging that the disparities in health outcomes for Black, Latinx, and Native American/Indigenous people are related directly to systemic racism, socioeconomic deprivation, race-neutral legislation, and the intentional withholding of political power from these groups.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and other public health data prove that communities of color are disproportionately affected by poorer outcomes of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity. Similarly, acts of violence and hatred toward communities of color are core causes of psychosocial stress. We have known these facts for decades, and yet, Black Americans still have the lowest life-expectancy of all racial/ethnic groups living in the United States.

NACDD has been working for more than 15 years through its Health Equity Council to counter the root causes of unintentional bias and institutional racism. We continue this work alongside multi-year efforts to reduce the effects of the social determinants of health.

In June 2020, NACDD called upon the government, funders, and our partners in public health to consider racism and racially motivated violence as a public health crisis for the United States.

The Association’s 2020-2021 Board President’s Challenge, announced in January 2021, also encourages Chronic Disease Directors to take tangible steps to include racial equity as a core component of chronic disease programming.

At the federal level, we are encouraged by the Biden Administration’s early support of anti-racism training and the nomination and appointment of one of the most diverse health leadership cohorts in Health and Human Services history. We applaud the decision to nominate/appoint HHS leaders with expertise in collaborating with the populations that are most impacted by health disparities so that we can bring a new understanding of and support for policies that prevent further death and injury from racism.
But central to all of these efforts is developing the unified understanding and acknowledgment from state/territorial legislative bodies that racism is a public health crisis and that there is a need to move toward greater racial and health equity. Legislative declarations in this vein are a small but meaningful step in helping to keep the conversations focused on renewed opportunities to prevent disease and promote health.   

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors
Promoting Health. Preventing Disease.

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and its more than 7,000 Members seek to strengthen state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in states and nationally. Established in 1988, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NACDD is the only membership association of its kind to serve and represent every chronic disease division in all states and U.S. territories. For more information, visit

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