Anne Arundel County Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice Earns MACo County Innovation Award

Department of Health awarded for their leading-edge equity programs

Annapolis, MD (July 13, 2021) - The Anne Arundel County Department of Health’s Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice has been chosen as a winner of the 2020 County Innovation Award presented by the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo). 

Anne Arundel County established the Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice in April 2020 with the mission to address racism as a public health issue and implement health equity and racial justice initiatives in the county. 

“In 2019, we made the commitment to address racism as a public health issue,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “The Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice and their incredible team has allowed us to connect with our impacted communities, who have been key partners in our work to eliminate health disparities in our county.” 

The office collects and analyzes data to identify racial, ethnic, geographic, and socioeconomic disparities in health measures, and works with county agencies, local organizations, and members of impacted communities to identify solutions to these disparities. 

“The Department of Health is committed to meeting the needs of vulnerable communities by identifying and addressing health disparities,” said Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “That is why our Office of Assessment and Planning set up the Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice last year. After a year of working to achieve equity in our response to COVID-19, we are committed to build on this work to promote the well-being of all of our county residents.”

During the pandemic the office focused on assisting low-income households who were hit hard by COVID. With a $200,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Health, they provided rental and utility assistance to nearly 200 households and partnered with community organizations to distribute care packages with hygiene products and information on COVID-19. 

The County Innovation Award recognizes superb and leading-edge county programs that improve overall quality of life and service delivery for residents. The award is given to two counties each year, one urban and one rural, and Anne Arundel County’s Office of Health Equity and Racial Justice was chosen from 35 total county program nominees as the winner of the urban county award. 

The Innovation Award is presented through a collaboration between the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance and MACo, with support from the Local Government Insurance Trust. MACo is a nonprofit and non-partisan organization that serves Maryland’s counties by “articulating the needs of local government to the Maryland General Assembly.”