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Health Equity Matters Newsletter

Fall 2016 Newsletter

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 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.

One of the many benefits of being CDC’s Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity is the opportunity to participate in some of the most cutting edge initiatives underway that stand to impact the future of population health and our ability to effectively reduce health disparities experienced by a broad range of population groups. In September, I was invited to give a talk on The Value of Community Engagement as part of the Precision Medicine Initiative’s (PMI) Cohort Consortium Program, Community Partners Workshop, led and supported by the National Institutes of Health.The primary purpose of the Community Partners Workshop was to engage “civic leaders, influencers and organizations rooted in community development, faith and health who are new to the PMI…,” inform them of the aims of the PMI, and most importantly, solicit their input and ideas on strategies for ensuring broad participation in this historic program, according to Dr. Elizabeth Cohn, principal organizer of the Workshop. Over 100 community representatives, and participating scientists attended the Workshop.

The new name of the PMI Cohort Program is the All of Us℠: Research Program described as “a participant-engaged, data-driven enterprise supporting research at the intersection of lifestyle, environment, and genetics to produce new knowledge with the goal of developing more effective ways to prolong health and treat disease. To reflect the diversity of the U.S. population, the program will enroll participants from diverse social, racial/ethnic, ancestral, geographic, and economic backgrounds, from all age groups and health statuses. Information from the program will be a broad, powerful resource for researchers working on a variety of important health questions. Importantly, the program will focus not just on disease, but also on ways to increase an individual’s chances of remaining healthy throughout life,” I encourage you to visit the website and get more information about this ground-breaking research program. One million or more interested persons will be recruited to participate. Stay tuned for more information about the official launch anticipated in 2017.

In September, I also participated in a Health Equity Forum cosponsored by The Joint Commission and the American Hospital Association. Seeing health equity discussed as a central theme in our ability to provide high quality health care and to reduce health care disparities was inspiring and energizing. Representatives of hospitals and large health systems gathered to deliberate how health equity might improve patient safety and other patient outcomes, and to share current health equity initiatives underway in hospitals and health systems across the United States. In addition to the potential benefits to patients and communities, there were numerous opportunities to explore greater public health and health care collaborations – a strategic priority for CDC.

There is much more that I could share about my engagements this fall and the growing interest in pursuing health equity. I am grateful to the many champions who are leading the charge across multiple sectors to help our nation realize the best health possible for all Americans. As this year is quickly coming to an end, there is much work that the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity has committed to complete in the months ahead which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Our nation recently elected the 45th President of the United States, and as we move toward the New Year and a new administration, let’s continue to shine a light on reducing health disparities, improving the health of women and girls, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive public health workforce.

Leandris C. Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA
Associate Director for Minority Health and Health Equity, CDC/ATSDR
Office of Minority Health & Health Equity (OMHHE)