KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City Department of Health and Public Health will take steps to improve the quality of life in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

City council members approved an ordinance Thursday to endorse the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).

Health officials came up with the plan because racism shortens life in Kansas City. She calls on the Health Commission to focus on racism as the root cause of health inequalities in the city.

A growing list of cities, including KCMO, are declaring racism a public health crisis

Some of the examples given to support this theory have been food deserts, underperforming school systems, and violence.

It is planned to address the issues while improving the quality of life in the following ways:

  • Invest in robust public health and prevention infrastructure;
  • Ensuring equal access to safe and affordable housing;
  • Support trauma-informed and funded education;
  • Support in the implementation of the Medicaid extension;
  • Support strategies for violence prevention; and
  • Improving resource equity, testing and vaccination for COVID-19

“This new 5-year plan will continue to take action to combat racism by focusing on root causes and making significant institutional changes that promote anti-racism,” said Councilor Ryanna Parks Shaw.

The average life expectancy around Brookside Boulevard is more than 86 years, but just seven miles away on Cleveland Avenue, the average life expectancy is only 68 years.

Brookside is a predominantly white neighborhood, while Cleveland Avenue is a predominantly minority neighborhood.

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The outgoing Kansas City Health Director Dr. Rex Archer said racism and discrimination are the leading cause of many current problems in Kansas City.

“So until we fully get back to the root cause, we can fix problems with patches, but we can’t really fix them,” he said.

This committee will identify cases based on a six-tier system called MAPP. The steps are partnership development, visioning, evaluation, identification, target development and implementation.

Archer said these issues affect everyone, whether or not you face discrimination.

“It affects the image of the city when our ability to recruit companies here when we have to deal with high violence in certain areas of the school system,” he said.

Some Kansas Citians said this plan was urgently needed.

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“I have a feeling that this is what the country needs,” said Yazmin Bagher. “I feel like Kansas City is in the middle of the country, and it is time we made a change forward as an example for the rest of the world.”

However, others fear that the health department may not be able to resolve such a complex problem.

“I’m not sure if the health department would be the task force to fix racism,” said Jacques Green.

You can watch the full announcement about the plan in the video player below.

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