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Health Equity Matters

A quarterly e-newsletter in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) shares news, perspectives and progress in the science and practice of health equity.

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity, CDC/ATSDR

Welcome to Health Equity Matters, an electronic newsletter intended to promote awareness of minority health and health equity issues that affect our work at CDC and in the broader public health community, support the achievement of our goal to eliminate health disparities, and foster ongoing communication and collaboration.

It is hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another year, and what a year it has been! In 2013, our nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington; we remembered the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his assassination; and the whole world paused to honor the life, love, and revolutionary contributions of Nelson Mandela in his passing at the age of 95. Mr. Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom (1995), “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.” We salute these great men of courage, integrity, and sacrifice, and are inspired by their embodiment of leadership, hope, and perseverance. These same characteristics are needed if we are to win the battle to reduce preventable health disparities and premature mortality in the U.S. and globally, and in this issue of Health Equity Matters, we honor John Auerbach – former state health officer for the State of Massachusetts, as our Health Equity Champion.
CDC's OMHHE 25th Anniversary!
This year also marked the 25th anniversary of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, the 20th anniversary of the Office of Health Disparities in the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), and the 10th anniversary of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention’s (NCHHSTP) Office of Health Equity.

In addition, CDC’s Office of Women’s Health and the Diversity and Inclusion Management Program have been joined with the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to create a more robust focal point for cross-cutting leadership, coordination, and impact. We believe this realignment will facilitate even broader awareness of issues related to women’s health and bolster efforts to eliminate gender-related health inequities; and contribute to CDC initiatives supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce well prepared to respond to the public health needs of an increasingly diverse U.S. population.

I am proud of the work CDC is doing toward health equity. Significant efforts are being directed toward advancing both the science and practice of health equity. For example, NCHHSTP led the development of 3 special issues of Public Health Reports focused on the social determinants of health; the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recently published A Practitioner’s Guide for Advancing Health Equity; the work of NCEZID in monitoring the health of newly arriving refugees and immigrants; and the 2013 CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report was released in November.

We also co-hosted with our sister federal agencies – the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) meetings with Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and Sir Michael Marmot, Director of the International Institute for Society and Health, University College London and former Chair of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, to review progress in the development of the Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health topic area and emerging work of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) related to surveillance of social determinants.

These efforts and more described in the current issue of Health Equity Matters speak to interest in and real momentum around health equity at CDC.

On behalf of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, I wish you a happy holiday season, and good health in the coming year! CDC's Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity, CDC/ATSDR
Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)

We hope you will enjoy this issue, and your comments are always welcome!
In less than a year, our readership has tripled, so please continue to share Health Equity Matters with others in your professional networks. We look forward to your comments, and encourage you to continue to circulate the newsletter among your colleagues and friends.


OMHHE expresses its condolences on the passing of Hawai’i State Health Officer, Loretta “Deliana” Fuddy. Fuddy, who served as Hawaii’s State Health Director since March 2011 and spent 30 years working in health and human services, was a great supporter of health equity. Though she will be greatly missed, her legacy will live on through her important work on the social determinants of health and her efforts to achieve health equity in Hawaii.

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