Summer 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.

This year marks significant milestones for programs at CDC that have been instrumental in reducing health disparities and pursuing health equity.  Namely, this year is the 20th anniversary of CDC’s REACH program – an acronym for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health.  REACH emerged in response to the need for public health programs that were culturally responsive, community-centered, and coordinated with public health departments and academic institutions. REACH has demonstrated the positive impact of bringing together the collective genius of community members, public health leadership from state and local health departments, and technical expertise from academic institutions.  Equity and shared decision-making are at the cornerstone of REACH, and this model of collaboration has persevered for 20 years!  In May, we participated with our colleagues in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity – where the REACH program is housed, to celebrate this important milestone.  Read more about the REACH anniversary celebration in this issue of Health Equity Matters.

Another important anniversary in 2019 was the 25th anniversary of CDC’s Office of Women’s Health!  We were able to bring together past directors along with Dr. David Satcher who established the Office of Women’s Health during his tenure as CDC Director, as well as hear from the current leadership in women’s health at CDC and at the Department of Health and Human Services.  We share some highlights from the 25th anniversary celebration in this issue.

Some of us are fortunate to be involved on the front end of the establishment of groundbreaking public health initiatives like the REACH program.  Our Health Equity Champion is one of the pioneers who has contributed significantly to the implementation of REACH and its branding as CDC’s flagship health disparities program.  We are honored to recognize Charmaine Ruddock who leads the Bronx Health REACH program. I can personally attest to her tireless commitment to reducing racial and ethnic health disparities in the Bronx and her sustained efforts to support REACH nationally.

As always, this issue of Health Equity Matters is filled with useful resources that cover a wide range of health topics that disproportionately impact communities of color.  For example, we provide an excerpt from the May Vital Signs report on pregnancy-related mortality.  African American and American Indian/Alaska Native women in the U.S. are about three times as likely as white women to die from a pregnancy-related cause.  Learn more about this urgent public health issue and what can be done to improve pregnancy outcomes for all women in Health Equity Matters.

In April, we co-hosted the 5th Public Health Ethics Forum in collaboration with the National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care at Tuskegee University.  Our focus was on ethical dilemmas in adolescent and child health. The forum began with a keynote presentation by Dr. David Hodge of Tuskegee University during which he gave an extraordinary grounding and theoretical overview of ethics and public health ethics that informed our thinking about the possibilities for overcoming ethical challenges associated with providing public health programs for children and adolescents.  I urge you to watch the video of Dr. Hodge’s presentation.  You can also earn continuing education units for this year’s forum.

As the year is speedily moving along, I hope everyone who reads Health Equity Matters is practicing self-care.  We have had to say goodbye to some colleagues this year much too soon.  CDC sponsors an annual Healthiest CIO Challenge (CIO means center, institutes and offices), and our Office looks forward to the challenge every year.  In addition, the 2019 theme for National Minority Health Month (April) was Active & Healthy.  We invited staff to list what they do to be active and healthy, and this is some of what was shared: take time to relax; plan meals ahead of time; schedule walking meetings; get up (frequently) and stretch; forgive.  As you delight in the rest of the summer, I hope you will incorporate these ideas into your wellness and self-care routines!

We hope you enjoy this issue of Health Equity Matters and look forward to your comments!

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

Page last reviewed: July 17, 2019