The start of a new year means a flurry of resolutions and commitments to make this year even better than the last. As we kick off 2019, we asked our colleagues at the Department of Health what their resolutions were for public health in New York City. From improving healthy food access, to supporting mental health, to ending the HIV and AIDS epidemics, their responses reflect their continued commitment to and passion for improving the health of all New Yorkers.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the City’s new Commissioner of Health and the chair of FPHNYC’s board, advocated strongly for the continued efforts of the Department of Health to promote health equity and improve access to care. “Access to health is a human right,” she said. “In 2019, we will continue to serve New Yorkers, regardless of their immigrant or insurance status. Our mission stays the same – to promote and protect the health of all New Yorkers.”
In recent years, FPHNYC has worked closely with the Division of Prevention and Primary Care, which advances population health by promoting high quality primary care and prevention. “New Yorkers can’t make healthy choices if we don’t have healthy choices. Through initiatives like National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI) to address the widespread prevalence of added sugars and salt, efforts to reduce smoking, and initiatives to improve access to quality health care, I envision a city where the healthier choice is the easier choice for all,” said Sonia Angell, Deputy Commissioner for Prevention and Primary Care.
Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control has his sights set on ending the spread of HIV and AIDS. “In 2019 we will continue our work towards our goal of ending the HIV and AIDS epidemics in NYC by 2020. I aspire to make New York a status-neutral city where the same approach is used in initial patient care regardless of one’s HIV status,” he said.
It’s still important to remember that not all New Yorkers have access to the same resources; one’s zip code is far too often a predictor of one’s health. To address these issues, Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner for the Center for Health Equity, committed in 2019 to “Continue to provide support to some of the most resource-deprived neighborhoods in our City by expanding access and utilization of our Neighborhood Health Action Centers, which provide a host of different services and programming where people can connect with their neighbors in Tremont, East Harlem, and Brownsville and surrounding neighborhoods.”
To ensure the next generation of New Yorkers grows up healthy and happy, Roger Platt, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Family and Child Health set his 2019 resolution to “Make NYC a place where children and their families have the best opportunity to grow and thrive through a focus on maternal health, school health and early childhood.”
And with the recent announcement of the expansion of the ThriveNYC initiative, mental health remains a key focal point for the City. Hillary Kunins, Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Mental Hygiene, set out her goals for the New Year. “In 2019,” she said, “we are excited to venture into our 4th year of ThriveNYC and the 3rd year of HealingNYC. These initiatives – focused on mental health broadly and the opioid overdose epidemic respectively – are helping us to take innovative public mental health approaches to prevent illness and death, expand access to effective treatment, build a prepared workforce, and work collaboratively across government and with communities.”
FPHNYC is grateful to work with such inspiring and motivated public health professionals. In the spirit of reflection, here’s a resolution of our own; in 2019, we commit to ensuring even more innovative and exciting public health programs can get off the ground and serve the health needs of New Yorkers. With that goal in mind, we think this year is already looking bright.
If you’d like to support our resolution and contribute to our work, please consider making a donation to FPHNYC. Your gift will support a wide range of public health programs that promote innovation and improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers.