Reaching for Health Equity

Mission Possible - Healthy lives for everyone - office of Minority health %26amp; health equity - celebrating 30 years of service

CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity believes healthy lives for everyone is possible. Read more about what we’re doing to advance health equity.

In 2018, the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) celebrated 30 years of service. The 30th anniversary theme,

Mission: Possible. Healthy Lives for Everyone,” commemorated OMHHE’s milestones related to reducing health disparities and advancing health equity.

In 1988, in response to the 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health (also known as the Heckler Report), CDC established an Office of Minority Health. To reflect the office’s evolving mission, in 1998, the name changed to the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. The name has since changed (2011) to Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. Over the years, the name has

changed but its mission remains the same: reducing and
eliminating health disparities and reaching health equity.

View this timeline to learn more about achievements in minority health and OMHHE’s 30 years of service.

What is Health Equity?

Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

What Are Health Disparities?
Infographic: Reaching for Health Equity

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people.

Many health disparities are related to social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Identification and awareness of differences among populations regarding health determinants and health outcomes are essential steps toward reducing health disparities. The future health of the nation will be determined, to a large extent, by how effectively federal, state, and local agencies and private organizations work with communities to eliminate health disparities among those populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of disease, disability, and death.

OMHHE advances health equity and women’s health issues across the nation through CDC’s science and programs. OMHHE also increases CDC’s capacity to leverage its diverse workforce and engage stakeholders to this end. OMHHE is comprised of three units including Women’s Health, Diversity and Inclusion Management, and Minority Health and Health Equity.

OMHHE 30th Anniversary Blog: Conversations in Health Equity

The blog is devoted to increasing awareness of health inequities and promoting national, state, and local efforts to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity. It is intended to be a useful way to discuss topics related to common challenges, and lessons learned and promising practices related to health equity.

In honor of the 30th anniversary, this year’s blog posts have been contributed by guest authors and discuss how other parts of CDC are making the mission possible to reduce health disparities and advance health equity. Blogs in the anniversary series include:

Conversations in Equity, Healthy Lives for Everyone - A blog devoted to incresing awareness of health inequities and promoting efforts to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity
Minority Health & Health Equity: Agents and Future Agents of Change

CDC Public Health Agents of Change

In 2018, CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) unveiled Public Health Agents of Change (PHAC) from across CDC. Whether in research or public health practice, PHACs take into account the diverse needs of the populations the agency serves with a goal of achieving health equity. OMHHE is honored to recognize a team of dedicated CDC staff committed to the mission of “Healthy Lives for Everyone.”

Future Public Health Agents of Change

CDC’s Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program (CUPS) provides opportunities for qualified students to gain meaningful experience in public health settings. The CUPS program prepares a diverse body of students to consider public health as a career to ensure a future where the American public benefits from a more diverse and better trained public health workforce.

See highlights from the 2018 CUPS orientation

Public Health Ethics Forums

In April 1915, Booker T. Washington dispatched a letter to the leading African American newspapers proposing the observance of a “National Negro Health Week.” That observance grew into what is today National Minority Health Month, a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities.

In 2015, CDC partnered with the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University to commemorate 100 years of public health evolution by hosting a forum for discourse on public health, ethics, and health disparities. A public health ethics lens ensures a uniquely expanded focus on population health opportunities and challenges. This forum became an annual event and has grown to focus on a variety of populations and ways to enhance ethical concerns associated with some public health programs intended for these populations. Participants leave with greater awareness of ways to address ethical implications of their public health programs.

In the anniversary year of OMHHE, the focus of the 2018 Public Health Ethics forum was minority elders and healthy aging. A recording of the event and continuing education credits are available.

Page last reviewed: November 16, 2020