Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued a proclamation this week to formally declare “Racism is a public health crisis nationwide.”
Nevada’s chief executive said “Given Nevada’s diverse population as a minority, majority state, this call to action raises awareness so Nevada does not perpetuate poor health outcomes due to systemic racism during and after the pandemic.
“Institutional and systemic racism has gone on far too long in this country and in this State. Based on research, we are taking a proactive approach in joining fellow leaders around the country to declare racism as a public health crisis, “ said Gov. Sisolak. “I am grateful to be joined by the Nevada Legislature in recognizing that racism manifests in measurable ways, including public health. I look forward to working with Nevada leaders and the Office of Minority Health and Equity on this critical issue.”
Experts and studies have shown that negative social determinants, with racism being at the forefront, have adversely affected the health of minority communities. This has also been demonstrated in many forms including unequal access to mental health services and a lack of educational and career opportunities, among many others.
The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the challenges caused by racial disparities within Nevada’s communities, especially in the form of virus and environmental exposure risks, and through all major stages of health care.
With this proclamation, Nevada joins other state and local governments that have passed or are considering similar declarations to raise awareness and with the goal of instigating long-term change across all sectors of government, including education, housing, and criminal justice. Importantly, this proclamation also enhances work already being done by the State’s Office of Minority Health and Equity, which was initially created by the Nevada Legislature in 2005 and expanded in 2017.
The Office of Minority Health and Equity engages communities statewide to promote health equity and combat health disparities through advocacy and education. For example, the Office is supporting important legislation signed by Governor Sisolak during the 2019 Session which addresses the results of systemic racism and requires cultural competency training for health care providers.