The Big Cities Health Coalition is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of the nearly 62 million people they serve.
Innovation in health is all around us. In fact, many city and county governments are leading the nation in innovative ways to create healthy and more equitable communities. That’s why the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) was formed — to create a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies, maximize resources, and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of the 62 million people they serve. Together, these public health officials directly affect the health and well-being of nearly one in five Americans.
BCHC addresses a wide range of health issues, including nutrition and tobacco policy, bioterrorism preparedness, environmental challenges, school health, and infectious disease. By fostering new channels for connectivity, partnership, and alignment among members, BCHC’s ultimate is seen in how it facilitates the development of new programs influenced by other cities.
BCHC has helped several member departments develop new approaches to keeping their communities healthy and safe. When Los Angeles County launched restaurant letter grading 20 years ago, it was a first of its kind system that is now that is commonplace across the country today. In the years following implementation, LA County saw foodborne illness hospitalizations decrease. Big cities such as New York, Chicago, Seattle, and Boston were also among the first jurisdictions to ensure that their cutting-edge tobacco laws included e-cigarettes. Building on these successes, BCHC has continued to broaden its reach, attracting interest from new cities and partner organizations, and helping prepare new big city health directors.
Over the years BCHC has grown from a membership of eight cities, whose work was led by staff at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to 30 member cities with dedicated staff and infrastructure. After being based at the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) from 2012 to 2018, the organization is now independent but remains affiliated with NACCHO.