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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 high school graduation time in Atlanta, and I recently attended the Baccalaureate Service for a young man I’ve watched grow up from his birth to his high school graduation. In the fall, he is headed to college! How quickly the years pass… Baccalaureate Services in the past were religious in nature and held the week before graduation. Some schools in Atlanta refer to this service as “pre-commencement,” but the purpose is still to inspire the students to the next level of greatness as they approach the grand achievement of completing high school. Graduates I decided while listening to the teachers and students recall the good times, lessons learned, and dreams for the future that I should plan to attend at least one graduation –high school or college –every year. There are few community rituals that bring together hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of families and friends from near and far, and parallel the pageantry, solemnity, and joy of a graduation. I believe the inspiration, energy, excitement, and promise that characterize graduations are what we need daily to sustain our focus and momentum in pursuing health equity. I suggest we start to think about the many conferences, seminars, and grand rounds we attend to hear from our colleagues about the state of the science, progress we’ve achieved in improving health outcomes, and plans for new initiatives and shifting priorities as “commencement exercises.” Each time we come together, we revisit our history, celebrate our victories, learn from our defeats, and take up the charge –again, to achieve health equity. Most importantly, we should leave these gatherings energized and better equipped to get the job done.

In this issue of Health Equity Matters, we highlight some new work of CDC and its partners, and launch the 3rd year of the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program and the 25th year of the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellowship. We introduce the Health Disparities Subcommittee – a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the CDC Director (ACD) that provides expert advice and guidance to our office and Dr. Frieden through the ACD. We share some important programmatic accomplishments such as the release of the first periodic MMWR Supplement, “Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities – Selected CDC-Sponsored Interventions, United States, 2014” and the first agency-wide seminar on “Immigrant, migrant, and foreign-born health: Addressing health disparities.” We also recognize and congratulate our colleagues, Dr. Lynne Richardson and Dr. Hazel Dean for receiving two of the most prestigious awards conferred by their professional peers and academic institutions.

Read on for more news and updates, including learning more about our Health Equity Champion, Ms. Sherry Hirota.

Ms. Sherry Hirota is nationally known and respected as a leader and advocate for insuring access to high quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate and accessible health care for Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Her influence is felt from California to Washington, D.C., and her work is known in community health centers, national organizations representing Asian and Pacific Islander populations, and in philanthropic circles across the U.S.

Last week our nation bid farewell to Dr. Maya Angelou – beloved poet and author. She was also an advocate for health equity as evidenced by the establishment of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest University. While we will miss her presence, her voice will never be silenced. She was indeed phenomenal, and we will honor and cherish the genius of her writing and the passion of her activism forever. 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)

As always, we hope you will enjoy this issue, and your comments are always welcome!

Our readership continues to grow. We now have over 12,500 subscribers, 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.

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