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[Perspectives] Mary Bassett: trailblazer for health in New York City

Mary Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, spent 17 years of her early career in Zimbabwe as the AIDS epidemic, of which she had seen the beginnings in her native Harlem, engulfed sub-Saharan Africa. Returning to New York, the most urgent need was a different one: to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) caused by smoking and poor diets. But on both continents, she identified the same underlying issue that she has fought all her life—health inequalities.