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Dearborn reinstates health department with fresh focus

City of Dearborn
Ali Abazeed will serve as the director of Dearborn's new Department of Public Health.

Dearborn will become just the second city in Michigan with its own health department, the city’s new mayor announced this week.

Dearborn did have its own health department in the past. It closed in 2011 for budget reasons.

Now, Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said he’ll revive it with what he calls a modern approach to public health. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for such an approach clear.

“Nothing could have better clarified the need to upgrade our public health systems than this once-in-a-century pandemic,” Hammoud said in a press release. “This department is about being accountable to our residents and no longer deferring our responsibility for the public’s health to other venues. Dearborn’s urgent health challenges demand innovative solutions, and that starts with bringing in the caliber of expertise that can meet those challenges head on."

Hammoud said that will include a focus on preventative care, environmental justice, and the “social determinants of health” — the social factors behind health outcomes.

“By engaging in cross-sector collaboration, conducting a needs assessment, prioritizing environmental justice, and collecting timely, reliable data to assess the impact of prevention initiatives, the City of Dearborn can be a leader in advancing population health and health equity,” Hammoud added.

Hammoud appointed Dearborn native Ali Abazeed to lead the effort. Abazeed is a public health expert with experience in the City of Detroit health department. Most recently, he was an advisor to the National Institutes of Health.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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