PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria City/County Health Department is preparing a statement that will address racism as a public health crisis. Monday, county board leaders dissected their position on racism and how it influences health. Leaders said recent events have demonstrated racism and other prejudiced. Adding, those events continue to disproportionately impact the health and lives of people of color and the vulnerable populations.

The department wants to reaffirm its commitment to addressing equity as a mechanism towards solving structural and institutional discriminatory policies. County leaders said achieving health equity is when everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible regardless of race and location.

County leaders wrote in a statement that the Peoria City/County Health Department and Board of Health advocates for and is committed to:

  • Health Equity in policies and practices
  • Diversity appreciation in the community and workplace
  • Reinvestment in communities of color
  • Supporting community-based interventions
  • Reforming structural systems
  • Voting

One board member is ready to release the statement for the sake of timeliness and letting the public know they are working toward solving the issue. Other members said the statement is missing some pieces and needs to be re-worked.

Until we start talking about the issues of white privilege and institutional racism we are going to be skirting the edges.

Joyce Harant, Peoria City/County Health Department

Harant said the current statement skirts the edges of the real issue at hand. Other board members said the statement needs to clarify what the department means by “racism” because there are different definitions.

The board voted to send the statement to the strategic planning committee for further review before it can be presented to the board again. The next strategic planning committee is July 2. However, board members have agreed to meet before then.