Community mobilizes around Black health and well-being strategy

By J.R. Dash

Black Health Alliance founder Dr. Christopher Morgan, foreground, Poverty Housing and Food Insecurity facilitator Denise Brooks, Executive Director of Hamilton Urban Care Community Health Centre (second right) and Shannon Holness (middle)

The development of a “Black Health and Well-Being Strategy is long overdue” in Canada. That is the view of Black Health Alliance President Dalon Taylor.Taylor made the pronouncement at BHA’s third annual forum on Saturday.

In her view,Black health needs to become a priority if Canada is serious about acknowledging the contributions of people of African and Caribbean ancestry.

“Without a strategy aimed at improving elements within public systems that have a detrimental impact on Black lives, we will continue to be over-represented among those who are suffering and under-represented among those who are fully engaged, benefitting from and thriving in society.”

To date, an estimated 110,000 black Canadians in Ontario alone have been identified as sickle cell carriers with over 60 newborns identified with full blown sickle cell disease annually.

Additionally, the rates of diabetes are highest among blacks and South Asians with more than 8.5 percent affected compared to approximately 4.2 percent among whites.

The forum which attracted renowned black health experts such as Keynote speaker Dr. OnyeNnorom, U of T MD Program Black Health Theme Lead, could be the foundation for building a Black Health and Well-being Strategy.

Over 250 attendees were present at the University of Toronto’s (U of T)Dalla Lana School of Public Health as speakers addressed the theme:Beyond A Sound Mind: Building a Black Health and Well-being Strategy.

The UN Human Rights Council Report indicates that racism ‘Lies at the core’ of Canadian institutions and a federal department of African-Canadian affairs is needed to effectively tackle the issue. Change, Dr. Nnorom noted, also includes the “need to advocate for race and ethnic-specific data to identify disparities as well as to measure progress in Canada, and to identify and prove what works.”

Given the recently passed Anti-Racism Act, 2017; Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan; and the Interim Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, a sustainable Strategyto support meaningful action is timely. J.R Dash is Black Health Alliance  board  of directors treasurer

Learn  more  about or  get involved in building the Black Health and Well-being Strategy at