This year’s celebration of World Health Day is centered around “Our Planet, Our Health.” The observance is supporting urgent actions to keep both humans and the planet they inhabit healthy. According to Sarah Chughtai, MA, senior program analyst of public health informatics at the National Association of County and City Health Officials — and guest author of today’s National Public Health Week post — strengthening global health begins with each of us at the local level.

As COVID-19 has shown, good health is not universal. Some communities face challenges that leave them more vulnerable to health risks than other groups. Each year on April 7, the World Health Organization, NACCHO, APHA and other organizations observe World Health Day by raising awareness of global health inequities, such as COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on minority communities. Family having fun

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of color experience significantly higher rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death, with Black and Hispanic people hospitalized for COVID-19 at over double the rate of white people. Various social, geographic, economic and environmental factors, such as lack of health care access and increased exposure due to occupational settings, have contributed to increased health risks in these communities. 

Data like this are vital to understanding how we can reach people who are historically underrepresented in biomedical research. Without marginalized communities represented in health data, scientists, citizen scientists and researchers cannot connect the dots to close health gaps that persist in our local communities. 

That is why NACCHO is working with local health departments to raise awareness about the All of Us Research Program. The program is gathering health information from 1 million or more people across the U.S. from different backgrounds to help build one of the most diverse health information resources in history. Researchers can then use this information for important health studies.   

The fact remains that minority groups continue to be underrepresented in health data and health research. This World Health Day, take immediate action to end this health inequity by joining All of Us. If you are a researcher, join the All of Us Research Hub. Approved researchers can access the All of Us data and tools to conduct studies to help improve our understanding of human health.

As this year’s NPHW theme says, “Public Health is Where You Are.” It starts with you and your health data. 

Photo by William Fortunato, courtesy Pexels