Mayor Duggan connects healthy people with the city’s comeback

By Dennis Archambault

In the body of Mayor Duggan’s remarks during his State of the City address on March 9, was comment that is one of the few times political leaders equate the value of healthy people with economic prosperity: “We’re not leading this country in getting vaccinated. And if we are going to drive the comeback of this city, it’s going to be important. Take your friend, take your neighbor, and let’s get vaccinated and let’s get the city going again.”

The context of the mayor’s assertion is that we need to prevent the coronavirus from infecting and debilitating Detroiters, thereby limiting the capacity of city businesses and schools to function and workers to work, students to learn. Added to that, of course, is the cost to the health care system, and indirectly to society. If we assume creative liberty and take the mayor’s comments slightly out of context, we have a statement that suggests that without a healthy population we can’t be a productive city, our creative and maker class can’t be innovative, and “the comeback” will be waylaid.

Public health, and in a broad sense, community health and well-being – resilience in traumatized vulnerable communities, is connected to economic viability. While there are those who argue against phased restrictions on social and business functions, blaming public health regulations for stress on the business sector, they fail to acknowledge that the contained virus in Michigan has allowed the economy to function at a fairly high level, according to statewide statistics, and hasn’t experienced a devastating depression that many had feared. However, more to the point, preventing the spread of the disease, and containing the surges, has helped keep workers working and businesses and institutions functioning, albeit under the duress of remote situations.

The correlation between a mentally and physically healthy population and productivity is a simple one. The mayor’s comments defines its critical importance: if we are to be a productive and progressive society, we need to be healthy. We need an adequate public health infrastructure, affordable accessible health care services, and we need to address the social determinants of health to promote health equity among vulnerable populations.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.