World Health Day: Our Planet, Our Health

World Health Day: Our Planet, Our Health

Celebrated annually around the globe on April 7, World Health Day is a day to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being and to highlight the important public health issues affecting our world.

Community health centers (CHCs) are located in communities that are medically underserved and low-income – the same communities that experience resource and funding shortages that manifest in various ways, such as housing crises, food deserts, and other social determinants of health. Their unique position in the communities they serve allow CHCs to witness firsthand how these environmental factors negatively impact their patients individually and their communities as a whole. Community health centers see firsthand what research has repeatedly shown: that patients who lack access to resources like healthy food and affordable housing have worse health outcomes than patients who do not experience these barriers.

Research shows a direct link between environmental factors and health outcomes and finds that people who experience unstable housing face negative health outcomes including higher morbidity and increased mortality. Additionally, communities that have food deserts, higher levels of pollution, and reduced access to quality primary care services are at higher risk of chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and higher rates of asthma. Providing access to stable, quality housing and nutritious food can improve health and reduce health costs.

As the primary care association representing 70+ community health centers serving 1 in 9 New Yorkers at more than 800 locations statewide, CHCANYS understands the importance of the environment as it impacts patient and community health. We are committed to raising awareness and promoting actions that work to achieve the goal of optimal health outcomes for our communities by recognizing the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment.

To promote healthy lifestyles and create a sense of safety and well-being among the underserved, we must value and invest in our communities and work tirelessly to eliminate poverty, fix the housing crisis, and actively work to reverse generations of divestment in and discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. Righting these wrongs is the only way to reverse these gaping health disparities and inequities.

The world benefits when communities are healthier. CHCANYS, and the community health centers we represent, remain committed to advancing health equity and creating an equitable system for all.

Published on 04/06/2022