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MDH Office of African American Health holds launch celebration at the Capitol

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officially launched Minnesota’s statewide Office of African American (OAAH) at the Capitol on Friday. The office was created to improve the health and well-being of African Americans in Minnesota.

"Today, we celebrate a significant milestone in Minnesota's public health history with the establishment of the Office of African American Health,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Brooke Cunningham. “Let this day serve as a cornerstone upon which we take on generational health inequities and build a healthier future for African American communities in Minnesota.”

The event included remarks from Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Commissioner Cunningham, MDH Health Equity Bureau Assistant Commissioner Dr. Robsan (Halkeno) Tura, MDH Director of OAAH DaVonna Rucker, as well as music and a drumline.

The office focuses on identifying and addressing the health disparities affecting African American communities, which stem from historical and cumulative discrimination and disadvantages across various sectors such as housing, education, employment, and health care.

The office promotes health in African American communities through partnerships, targeted initiatives and policy and strategic change efforts.

“We come together to lift each other up,” said Commissioner Cunningham. “This is done through listening to, elevating and partnering with the African American community so that Minnesota may make the necessary changes and find the path to where everyone has access to what they need to be healthy.”

Legislation authorizing the office was passed in 2023 to reduce disparities and improve the health and well-being of Minnesota African American communities. The legislation also established the African American Health State Advisory Council and the African American Health Special Emphasis Grants for community-based and health organizations to plan and develop programs to improve Black health outcomes.



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