New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Health and Mental Hygiene Department Commissioner Dr Ashwin Vasan have unveiled “HealthyNYC,” an ambitious plan to improve and extend the average lifespan of all New Yorkers.
The campaign sets ambitious targets to address the greatest drivers of premature death, including chronic and diet-related diseases, screenable cancers, overdose, suicide, maternal mortality, violence, and Covid-19.
Overall, the campaign launched Nov 1 aims to extend the average life expectancy of New Yorkers to 83 years by 2030, with gains across racial and ethnic groups, according to a media release.
“It’s time we give New York City extra life with the launch of ‘HealthyNYC,’ our campaign to help New Yorkers lead healthier, longer lives,” said Adams.
“‘HealthyNYC’ is a game changer because in the wake of COVID-19, and while facing parallel and growing health crises, we know that, as a city and a nation, people are getting sicker and dying sooner than they should,” said Dr. Vasan.
“Losing years of life and of good health is a unifying challenge, and getting them back is a top priority for New York City, as well as a north star for the future of public health,” he said.
“The road we travel here in New York City will provide guideposts for our nation and its people, who should expect to live long and live well, for themselves and for generations to follow,” Vasan added.
“Mayor Adams’ ‘HealthyNYC’ plan is an ambitious agenda taking the main drivers of early mortality and tackling them head on,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar.
“At a time when average life expectancy in our city decreased 5.5% during the pandemic, we will bring an end to the avoidable situations that take our loved ones too soon, such as chronic diseases caused by poor diet, substance abuse, suicide, violence, and medical complications of pregnancy,” she said.
“HealthyNYC is a bold plan to ensure New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean, Brown School of Public Health.
“The initiative is a testament to the leadership of Mayor Adams and Commissioner Vasan and their commitment to ensure New York doesn’t just recover from the deadly Covid pandemic but thrives in the years ahead.
“I firmly believe this will become a national model that other cities, states, and our entire nation can follow to help America’s health get back on track.”
The “HealthyNYC” plan aims to address the life years lost during the Covid-19 pandemic to the virus and other causes and surpass life expectancy from what it was pre-pandemic, according to the release.
Between 2019 and 2020, overall life expectancy across demographics fell to 78 years. Recent data suggests that life expectancy in New York City has begun to improve, with 2.7 years gained back from 2020 to 2021, however life expectancy remains well behind 2019 data.
These impacts have also not been felt equally, as life expectancy fell to 76.1 years among Black New Yorkers in 2021, compared to 81.8 years among white New Yorkers.
While Covid-19 was the biggest driver of the decrease in life expectancy in 2020, other drivers of decreasing lifespans included gun violence and chronic diseases, like diabetes. To address this trend, “HealthyNYC” outlines the following ambitious goals:
- Reduce cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 5% by 2030;
- Reduce screenable cancers — including lung, breast, colon, cervical, and prostate cancers — by 20% by 2030;
- Reduce overdose deaths by 25% by 2030;
- Reduce suicide deaths by 10% by 2030;
- Reduce homicide deaths by 30% by 2030;
- Reduce pregnancy-associated mortality among Black women by 10% by 2030; and
- Reduce annual Covid-19 deaths by 60% by 2030.
By reaching these milestones, the city can bring life expectancy above 83 years by 2030 and reduce existing racial disparities in life expectancy, the release stated. The city will employ a number of strategies to achieve these reductions in deaths, including:
- Increasing access to naloxone, proven harm-reduction, and treatment and recovery centers to reduce overdose deaths;
- Expanding access to culturally responsive mental health care and social support services, including early intervention for communities of color and LGBTQIA+ youth and address the impact of social media on youth mental health and suicidal ideation to reduce suicide deaths;
- Increasing new families’ access to quality health care and social support to reduce pregnancy-associated mortality among Black women; and
- Increasing access to healthy foods and promoting plant-forward diets to reduce chronic and diet-related disease deaths.