National Minority Month 2024

April is National Minority Health Month. The observance is designed to raise awareness about the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minority communities and reducing health disparities. Health disparities show up as higher disease rates, injury or violence that are experienced by certain populations.  Data show these differences can occur based on:

  • race and ethnicity
  • income
  • geographic location
  • environment

“They come in the form of day-to-day things that impact quality of life, such as good schools, access to fresh fruits and veggies, green space or other vibrant places to gather, and quality, affordable housing,” said Sandra Serna, director of the Office of Health Equity.

The Office of Health Equity (OHE) at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) works to address the root causes of health disparities by developing programs, tools and resources to address the problem. For example, OHE allocated funding to assist with an initiative to make financial assistance applications easier to read and complete for Latino families who have struggled with receiving assistance.
The Virginia Partners in Prayer and Prevention Program, which operates out of the OHE, awarded Latinos in Virginia Empowerment Center with Centers for Disease and Prevention grant funding to provide financial assistance for the Latino community. For more information on programs and services available, visit

Since June 2021, OHE has administered Virginia’s $27.3M Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Health Disparities grant. The grant, which specifically focuses on racial and ethnic minority and rural populations, gives recipients the flexibility to address the many health disparities made worse by the pandemic. As result, OHE has been able to fund and support innovative work across the state. One example is OHE’s partnership with four historically black colleges and universities. The funding provides support for a variety programs, events and services that educate participants about chronic diseases that impact African Americans, putting them at further risk for COVID-19 health complications.