About CDC’s Office of Health Equity (OHE)
The future health of the nation will be determined to a large extent by how effectively we work with communities to eliminate health disparities among those populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of disease, disability, and death.
Persistent health disparities in our country are unacceptable and correctable. CDC’s Office of Health Equity (OHE) advances health equity and women’s health issues across the nation through CDC’s science and programs. OHE also increases CDC’s capacity to leverage its diverse workforce and engage stakeholders.
CDC is committed to bringing together partners from various sectors to gain collective expertise and perspectives, inform next steps, and create a shared commitment to reduce health inequities. Through the CORE Health Equity Science Intervention Strategy, CDC centers are collaborating with multi-sectoral partners to incorporate health equity as a foundational component in all our work.
Each division has submitted health equity action plans that are being incorporated into a broad, unified agency-wide strategy.
OHE’s CORE Goals
- Integrate health equity principles into CDC public health programs, policies, data systems, and funding structures.
- Mobilize partners to develop and implement evidence-based strategies that address health disparities and long-standing inequities including structural and social determinants of health.
- Catalyze tools and processes that ensure diversity and health equity competencies, transform infrastructure, and mobilize the existing and future CDC staff and public health workforce.
- Develop and implement strategies and policies to address and reduce the impact of gender discrimination and gendered racism, and promote health equity in the workplace.
OHE At a Glance
Mission: The Office of Health Equity exists to ensure health equity is embedded in an all-of-public health approach to overcoming persistent health disparities and health inequities across a range of population groups that disproportionately experience poor health outcomes.
Vision: All people have the opportunity to attain the highest level of health possible.
Compelling evidence that race and ethnicity correlate with persistent, and often increasing, health disparities among US populations demands national attention.
Acting Director for CDC’s Office of Health Equity
Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, is the Acting Director for CDC’s Office of Health Equity (OHE). She served as the Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity for CDC/ATSDR since 2011. In this capacity, she leads and supports a wide range of critical functions in the agency’s work in minority health, health equity, and women’s health. She plays a critical leadership role in determining the agency’s vision for health equity, ensuring a rigorous and evidence-based approach to the practice of health equity, and promoting the ethical practice of public health in communities vulnerable to health inequities. Dr. Liburd has been instrumental in building capacity across CDC and in public health agencies to address the social determinants of health, and in identifying and widely disseminating intervention strategies that reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.
History of the Office
CDC’s Office of Minority Health was established by the CDC Director on August 8, 1988 as a small coordination office, set up in response to Secretary Heckler’s 1985 landmark report on minority health.
Ten years later, the office went through the first of many strategic redirections and continued to transform over the next 7 years to become CDC’s Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities (OMHD) in September of 2005, with established programs now serving a broader focus of expanded populations.
OMHD was later strategically aligned within the Office of Strategy and Innovation (OSI) to establish CDC goals and ensure health disparities were being addressed and incorporated into all CDC work and agency goals.
In 2008, OMHD was moved to the Office of the Chief of Public Health Practice (OCPHP), to be best positioned to accelerate health impact for groups at higher risk in the US, with a focus to develop CDC-wide health disparity elimination strategies, policies, and programs.
In 2010, the CDC restructure initially partnered OMHD with the Office of the Associate Director for Program (OADPG), with whom it shares a close collaborative relationship today, working to ensure all CDC Programs address health disparities at all levels, through planning, performance, accountability, and program evaluation.
At the beginning of 2011, the office transformed once again, to emerge as the new OMHHE, placed in the CDC Office of the Director (OD), and led by Dr. Leandris Liburd.
In 2018 OMHHE celebrated 30 years of service with the commemoration theme, Mission: Possible. View this timeline to learn more about achievements in minority health and OMHHE’s anniversary.
In 2023, CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity was renamed to CDC’s Office of Health Equity and celebrated their 35th anniversary.
Name and Organizational Alignment
CDC is an Agency/Operating Division of the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Legislation requires the establishment of an Office of Minority Health within the Office of the Director at six HHS agencies – including CDC – with the head of each office reporting directly to the head of each agency.
Although CDC has had an Office of Minority Health in place for over 20 years (formerly the Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities), in order to comply with all provisions of the new statute, CDC organizationally re-aligned and re-named its office: Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE).
HHS approved all six of these minority health offices in April 2011.