Fall 2019

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 Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

Director, Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)

Welcome to Health Equity Matters, an electronic newsletter intended to promote awareness of minority health and health equity work at CDC and in the broader public health community, support the achievement of our goal to eliminate health disparities, improve women’s health, support diversity and inclusion in the public health workforce, and foster ongoing communication and collaboration with our partners and the public.

As I write the Introduction to this issue of Health Equity Matters, our nation is observing the national holiday celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Few in modern history can share Dr. King’s distinction as a “drum major for justice” and an advocate for health and equity. One of his most cited quotes is “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” We are grateful for every instance he used his voice to call attention to health and health care disparities, and we will continue to do our part to achieve health equity. Thank you, Dr. King.

This month marks my 9th year as director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at CDC. One of my first assignments was to co-lead the development of the Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health topic area. I worked closely with Emily DeCoster at HRSA and our colleagues in the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (HHS/OASH). We spent countless hours working together, writing and rewriting the content for the topic area, bringing constituents together to gain their insight, and researching the literature to ensure the integrity of the topic area. Of the many initiatives I’ve been privileged to work on over the course of my long career in public health, co-creating the inaugural Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health topic area is one of which I am most proud. The year 2020 seemed far away at the time, but 2020 has arrived and we can look back on the decade and be pleased with the work that has come out of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. We have built strong and productive partnerships both inside and outside of CDC. We have sustained legacy programs like the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellowship which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. We have organized and implemented our work to fulfill the leadership roles of thought leader, technical consultant, convener, and catalyst. Much of what was accomplished over the past 7 years has been highlighted in Health Equity Matters and we are pleased to now have over 90,000 subscribers!

Now it’s time to look to 2030. Among our priorities for the coming decade, we will continue to refine, disseminate, and evaluate OMHHE’s health equity framework for action; we are identifying and incorporating new models for increasing diversity and inclusion at CDC; we have joined colleagues at CDC and across HHS to build an agenda to address maternal mortality which is both a women’s health and a minority health issue; and we are creating an innovative health equity indicators initiative that will focus on health outcomes and determinants in a way that should drive action to reduce health disparities and inequities and advance health equity, to name a few.  Stay tuned!

In this issue, we feature Dr. Wayne Giles as OMHHE’s Health Equity Champion! Dr. Giles is at once a phenomenal leader, physician, scientist, administrator, and advocate for community health. He has devoted his entire career to population health and health promotion, addressing chronic diseases that disproportionately impact communities of color, and eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities across a wide range of conditions including social determinants of health. He is now ensuring the academic and professional development of the next generation of public health leaders in his role as dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I have known Dr. Giles for over 20 years now and his leadership has always centered on overcoming health disparities in the mission of public health. In fact, Dr. Giles was one of the masterminds behind the design and evaluation of the REACH (Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health) program.  We are honored to recognize him as a national champion for health equity.

As always, this issue of Health Equity Matters highlights significant public health issues and showcases programs supported by OMHHE.  We hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter, and that you walk away with new knowledge, new ideas, and renewed energy to carry your public health programs forward in 2020.

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
Director, Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Page last reviewed: January 22, 2020