Anita Raj: Board of Health

March 4, 2024
Anita Raj is a candidate for reelection to the Board of Health.

Anita Raj smiled as she recalled the big issue on the Bedford Board of Health agenda when she was first elected in 2012. 

“We were trying to figure out how many animals constituted a farm. I think it was five chickens and a goat.” She explained that the regulations, emanating from the 1960s, “were designed to discourage backyard farming, so we revamped those.”

Fast-forward to today, she said, where the board is “heavily involved in monitoring biomedical research” facilities.

Raj, a registered nurse and scientific researcher, is a candidate for a fifth three-year term. She said the COVID-19 pandemic gave the Board of Health “a very high profile. There were 40-50 people on our Zoom calls, which was great in terms of their understanding that we do exist and we are working on their behalf. COVID really impressed on me even more how important public health is.

“We got very lucky that science was at a point where it could rapidly generate the vaccine. That took the pressure off how horrible COVID was,” she added

Raj said children and the elderly and immuno-compromised were the groups most affected by the pandemic.

“Online schooling really was difficult for a lot of kids,” she observed. Many older people who were isolated “got sicker during that period of time because they lost a lot of the things about having a vibrant life.”

Now the members are involved with “laying the foundation of preparedness for our board and the Health Department for the eventuality of another pandemic.”

One outcome that Raj identified was “people now are understanding the real goals of public health and the scientific process. The goal of public health is to keep the whole population healthy and to protect residents from things that could be harmful, from contaminated water to a contagious virus.

“Sometimes that is going to require people to act in ways they might not want, to benefit the community as a whole,” she added.

Raj described another board priority: deterring tick-borne diseases, which she called “a huge issue, prevalent in Bedford.” She said not just Lyme disease but also “six or seven others that come from ticks. 

“We have so many trails and conservation areas, and people are getting bitten,” even becoming ill multiple times in a year. The board needs to continue promoting tick barriers on the periphery of play areas as well as community education, she said.

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