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Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) Release Health Of Boston Report

February 8, 2018

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

The report presents the overall health of Boston residents, providing a foundation for the City's planning and implementation of health-related services and policies

 Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the release of the latest Health of Boston report that presents the overall health of Boston residents, providing a foundation for the City's further planning and implementation of health-related services and policies, and supports the Boston Public Health Commission's (BPHC) critical role in furthering health equity in Boston.

"This report serves as a roadmap to drive and prioritize our efforts by not only describing the health successes and challenges we face as a city, but also offering real world perspectives," said Mayor Walsh. "We celebrate the progress made in the last decade, and look forward to continuing to build a thriving City with health for all residents at its foundation."

"I'm encouraged by the progress Boston has already made toward creating opportunities for all residents to live healthy, fulfilling lives," said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. "With this data, we are prepared to look toward the future, to work with partners, providers, and residents on tackling health issues collectively and with a broader lens. We will look beyond individual programs and services to build out a system of compassionate care that encompasses all of the needs of Boston's residents."

The  2016-2017 Health of Boston report presents data on environmental health, access to health care, maternal and child health, health-related behaviors, chronic disease, cancer, infectious disease, sexual health, injury and exposure to violence, mental health, substance use disorders, and causes of death. The report focuses on the various social, economic, and environmental factors that impact health, such as education, employment, income and poverty, and housing.

Data sources for the report include the U.S. census, birth and death registries, hospital emergency department and inpatient discharge databases, sexually transmitted and infectious disease surveillance data, surveys that describe individual behaviors or community demographics and assets, geographical data, and environmental monitoring data from local and state agencies. Data was collected and analyzed by BPHC, the City's health department.

"The data and points of view included within the report serve to guide our work, inform our strategic priorities, and increase our capacity to address these challenges through targeted partnerships and collaboration," said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. "This report gives us the foundation to tailor our services to the most urgent needs of Boston residents, specifically the most vulnerable."

"The Health of Boston report is a valuable tool in measuring the progress we are making to improve the overall health in Boston," stated Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital. "We still have work to do to close the gaps that  exist for racial and ethnic populations who have poorer birth outcomes and higher rates of chronic disease. We are committed to working collaboratively with community partners to ensure health equity for all Bostonians."

The data identifies advances in reducing in infant mortality and consistently low prevalence of elevated blood lead levels among children under age 6. It also shows declines in adolescent pregnancy, cigarette smoking and binge drinking among youth, chlamydia incidence, hepatitis C incidence, homicide and cancer mortality. Among the report's findings, some include:

  • From 2006 to 2015, deaths among black infants decreased by 36 percent
  • From 2011 to 2015, the birth rate for Boston females ages 15-17 decreased 57 percent
  • From 2007 to 2015, the percentage of high school students who reported smoking decreased from 7.5 percent to 4.8 percent
  • From 2011 to 2015, the cancer mortality rate decreased by 12 percent for Boston residents overall.

"As a community health center on the frontline of care, we're thrilled to see outcomes improving for the people of Boston. The City's health initiatives are gaining meaningful traction, indicating that we're on the right path," said Manny Lopes, president and CEO of East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC). "Seeing such positive data for East Boston, specifically, is deeply affirming the 1,200 EBNHC team members who work to meet our mission every day. We will build on our positive momentum, improving the health and well-being of the Boston community-and continually redefining what's possible."

The report also highlights new and continued challenges such as the local impact of the national opioid epidemic, which is claiming lives at a historically high rate, and chronic disease prevalence rates remaining high. Differences in health experience across racial and ethnic groups, men and women, residents of public housing and homeowners, low income and higher income residents, and several other groups who may be at increased risk for poor health are also addressed.

The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston.

The full report can be found online

About the Boston Public Health Commission

Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of our mission -- to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.