At the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, we believe that every resident of South Carolina should be able to prosper, regardless of their race, zip code or income level. We are outraged by the deaths of George Floyd and countless others who have been the victims of racially motivated violence.

But we are more outraged by the systemic racism that leads to these repeated tragedies.

Long-standing systems of power and privilege have resulted in vast inequalities for minority populations. This is especially true in rural communities that are consistently under-funded.

Core to our mission is the investment in rural communities to remove the barriers that create health disparities based on race, geography or income. Since 1997, our Family Solutions program has worked to improve health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy, and to reduce racial/ethnic differences in rates of infant death and adverse perinatal outcomes. Our Rural Health Action Plan took a deep look at all the factors that influence the health of a community – from housing, employment and economic development, to education and healthcare. Our community health transformation initiatives work with communities to identify how decisions are made, by whom, and how they impact communities differently.

But we know there is more we can do.

We will review our own policies and practices to ensure they promote fairness and equity. We will hold internal training sessions and conversations to make us better able to serve our communities with greater sensitivity and less bias.

We will continue our work with rural providers and communities, along with our statewide partners, to reduce health disparities and build strong, united and equitable communities across South Carolina.