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25 Years a Champion for Health Equity!

Origin of the Office

OMHHE logoOn August 8, 1988 the CDC Director established CDC's Office of Minority Health (OMH), after the inception of the HHS Office of Minority Health in 1986, the first federal entity dedicated exclusively to improving the health of all racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of policies and programs aimed at eliminating unequal health outcomes.

Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority HealthBoth Offices were set up in response to the 1985 Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health, a landmark eight-volume report, known as the Heckler Report, documenting the extent of health disparities affecting Americans of color and recommending action steps for the nation to address these disparities.

In April 2011, under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the Office became the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), one of six minority health offices approved by HHS to represent their respective agencies.

Background, History & Accomplishments

OMHHE aims to accelerate the work of CDC and its partners in improving health by eliminating health disparities; promoting social and environmental conditions conducive to health; and achieving health equity. Health equity has been defined in many ways, but always refers to the opportunity for all to be healthy and make healthy choices. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally, and continually striving to address avoidable inequalities and injustices and eliminate health disparities.

Health equity describes the world we want to see, and elimination of health disparities is one way to help us get there.

Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of HealthIn 2011, OMHHE assumed CDC leadership for the development of the Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health topic area, working closely with other federal agencies such as the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Social determinants of health have been defined by the World Health Organization as the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and their access to health care. These circumstances, such as education, transportation options, and residential segregation are important drivers of health disparities.

25 Years a Champion for Health Equity!OMHHE has for many years supported internship opportunities for qualified undergraduate and graduate students interested in minority health. These internships provide meaningful research and practice experiences at CDC and in other public health settings. OMHHE has also funded health projects conducted by minority community organizations as well as major national and regional minority organizations.

During these 25 years, OMHHE has advanced the science and practice of eliminating health disparities and inequities –or health differences that are systematic, unfair, and avoidable--by, for example, collaborating with others across CDC in publishing manuscripts exploring topics such as health life expectancy by race, sex, and geography and contributing to the 2011 CDC Report on Health Disparities and Inequalities.

Millennial Health Leaders SummitThrough its quarterly e-newsletter Health Equity Matters, OMHHE promotes awareness of minority health and health equity issues that affect our work at CDC and in the broader public health communities, and fosters ongoing communication and collaboration with partners inside and outside CDC.

Celebrations & Reflections

OMHHE's anniversary celebration's main activities include several events occurring this fall.

A stack of publicationsHealth is a Human Right: Race and Place in America

An exhibition, at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum from September 28, 2013 to January 17, 2014. This exhibition will examine the evolution of minority health and health equity in the 20th and early 21st centuries. It will include historic photographs, documents, objects, and interactive displays that describe the many facets of communities that contribute – negatively and positively – to the health status of different populations. The influence of issues such as migration, discrimination, housing and education on health is described using historical events.

CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report

Graphic: Silhouette of peopleThe 2013 CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (CHDIR) will include updates on most topics from the 2011 CHDIR as well as new topics. The 2013 CHDIR highlights the need for a “comprehensive, community-driven approach” to reducing health disparities in the United States.

CDC Report on Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities

The first MMWR supplement titled the “CDC Report on Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities” will be released in December 2013. This Report complements the 2011 CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report (CHDIR) by describing interventions that are working to reduce disparities in selected topic areas.

State of Health Equity at CDC Forum

State of Health Equity at CDC ForumBuilding upon a successful 2012 event to examine CDC's work to advance health equity, OMHHE will convene its second State of Health Equity at CDC Forum in October, which will focus on conceptual models and measurement.The Forum represents an agency-wide effort to focus our broad health equity work into key areas for action - measuring health disparities; essential health equity program elements; organizational infrastructures that support health equity at CDC; and policies that support health equity. The Forum offers a vital opportunity for CDC to continue examining its efforts, progress, and existing gaps to achieve health equity goals.

The office looks forward to these and other events celebrating the 25th anniversary. This fall, we will review progress and accomplishments over the past 25 years, report on strategies and programs that are working in the present, and collaborate on actions to affect the future.

Achievements of Health Equity Offices at CDC

OMHHE congratulates two CDC health equity offices also celebrating anniversaries this year: the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases' (NCEZID) Office of Health Disparities, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention's (NCHHSTP) Office of Health Equity, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases’ (NCEZID) posterNCEZID Office of Health Disparities 20th Anniversary

NCEZID's Office of Health Disparities, formerly the Office of Minority and Women's Heath, has played a leading role in CDC/ATSDR work on neglected infections among minority populations, and has been a long-term supporter of the Ferguson Fellowship Program, the International Conference on Women and Infectious Diseases, the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases Leaders Program, and the NCEZID Health Disparities Committee.

NCHHSTP Office of Health Equity 10th Anniversary

Established in 2003 as NCHHSTP's Office of Health Disparities, and later as the Office of Health Equity (OHE) in 2009, OHE's mission is to promote health equity and reduce health disparities among populations disproportionately affected byHIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and other related conditions.

Office of Health Equity (OHE) in 2009, OHE’s mission is to promote health equity and reduce health disparities among populations disproportionately affected by HIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and other related conditionsThe Office of Health Equity is celebrating its 10th anniversary by hosting an event on November 7th featuring speakers who will discuss the promotion of health equity in infectious diseases and perspectives on addressing the social determinants of health from the international, national, and local levels. Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health for the Department of Health and Human Services and Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the Institute of Health Equity and Medical Research Council Research Professor in Epidemiology at the University College London, will give the keynote presentations. NCHHSTP will also highlight the release in September of the Public Health Reports special issue on Social Determinants of Health and Public Health Practice.


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  • Page last reviewed: September 9, 2013
  • Page last updated: September 9, 2013
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