WHAT IS THE GREATEST PREDICTOR OF HEALTH? IS IT WEIGHT? ZIP CODE? CHOLESTEROL LEVEL? AGE?
If you guessed zip code, you guessed correctly.
In New York City, there are some stark health disparities by race, income and immigration status across different neighborhoods. Life expectancy in Brownsville, Brooklyn is 11 years less than for residents in Stuyvesant Town and Turtle Bay. In Jackson Heights, Queens, over 22% of residents do not have health insurance compared to 4% on the Upper East Side. Black women in NYC are 12 times more likely to die of complications related to childbirth than White women.
Health disparities refer to differences in health outcomes that are closely correlated with economic, social, or environmental disadvantages. According to former NYC Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, “Poor health outcomes tend to cluster in places that people of color call home and where many residents live in poverty.” This is especially evident in NYC which remains one of the world’s most segregated and unequal cities. On the Upper East Side, which is 79% White, 2% of children live below the poverty line. Just a few blocks away, north of 96th Street, where 50% of the population is Hispanic and 31% is non-Hispanic Black, more than 50% of children live in poverty.
The good (and bad) news is that these vast health disparities are not unavoidable and not by accident. They are the result of policies that have fueled longstanding and rising income inequality and racial segregation, as well as historical and contemporary injustices such as underinvestment in communities of color, poverty, substandard housing, educational inequality and inadequate access to healthcare.
IN SICKNESS AND IN WEALTH
"In Sickness and in Wealth" is a photojournalism project that profiles five health disparities in NYC, one in each borough: life expectancy in Brownsville, Brooklyn, the opioid crisis on Staten Island, infant and maternal mortality in Central and East Harlem, asthma in Mott Haven and Melrose in the Bronx and access to health insurance in Jackson Heights, Queens.
It was created by students from the United Nations International School (UNIS) and KIPP Academy in the Bronx who took part in the 2017 program. It is the culmination of training in human rights, photography, journalism, and six months of investigating health disparities across different zip codes in NYC.
UNIS Human Rights Project 2017
Investigating health disparities in New York City