Nation’s Public Health Leaders Stand United Against Racism

June 02, 2020

ARLINGTON, VA—The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ (ASTHO) leadership—including Nate Smith, MD, MPH, ASTHO president and secretary of health at the Arkansas Department of Health, Rachel Levine, MD, ASTHO president-elect and secretary of health at the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Michael Fraser, chief executive officer of ASTHO—issued the following statement today about racism, health disparities, and systemic oppression.

"The effects of racism, high prevalence of health disparities, and systemic oppression that have deeply affected Black communities and other communities of color are issues that are of great importance to our nation’s health officers. The events of this past weekend, which arose after the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery contribute to the scars of our nation and further expose fissures within the very structural systems that are in place to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live and thrive in environments that are safe, stable, and healthy. Racism has no place within our society, and it counters our vision of advancing health equity and optimal health for all.

"As a non-partisan, consensus-based association of state and territorial public health leaders, ASTHO remains steadfast in its work to facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences, creating dialogue that is inclusive of all voices within the public health continuum, identifying and raising awareness of best practices in public health—that not only eliminate racism and hate, but also bring forth solutions to the communities that we serve—and uprooting elements of hate that impact our ability to effectively respond to adverse events in our communities. It is imperative that partners and stakeholders from various perspectives and political affiliations reflect and reaffirm our collective commitment to policies that work against racism, racial bias, eliminate health disparities, and promote efforts that offer empathy, compassion, and healing to our Black community and other communities of color.”


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and Washington, D.C., as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.