Introduction and Welcome

Summer 2021

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.

Opening Remarks from OMHHE Director

Dr. Leandris Liburd
Dr. Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA

Director of CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

This year, CDC celebrates 75 years protecting the nation’s health. From a small federal entity focused on stopping the spread of malaria across the country, CDC has evolved to be a global public health leader with responsibility for not only infectious and communicable disease control, but also environmental health, chronic diseases, injury prevention, and a broad range of health issues that impact population health across the lifespan. The agency has demonstrated over and over its ability to rally an elite, interdisciplinary workforce of public health scientists, analysts, communicators and subject matter experts to address and resolve numerous public health threats. The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably one of the most challenging infectious disease outbreaks in the agency’s history as we are more than 17 months in this emergency response. However, we have not lost our resolve or slowed our efforts to end this global and vicious pandemic. We remain laser-focused on increasing vaccine uptake and other mitigation measures that can stop the spread of COVID-19.

Community engagement is a cornerstone of public health practice and CDC has relied on national minority-serving organizations, community-based organizations, and faith-based organizations during the pandemic to disseminate culturally and linguistically responsive prevention messages, and increase access to testing, contact tracing, isolation options and health care. Historic investments have been made to reach communities with lifesaving vaccines and reduce COVID-19 health disparities. In this issue of Health Equity Matters, we provide an update on the work of some of these minority-serving national organizations and their strategies to reach racial and ethnic minority populations at high risk for infection, hospitalization, and even death from the virus.

The Office of Minority Health and Health Equity has also increased its communications outreach through new social media venues. Read about these new social media outlets and follow us to stay up-to-date with information you can trust and share with family and friends. We are committed to bringing public health leaders to our conversations about health equity, and in our recent edition, we invited Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, to lend his voice in how we move forward in light of the impact of COVID-19 to achieve health equity.

Since 2012, we have identified and recognized public health researchers and practitioners who are leading evidence-based health equity science and practice. Our Health Equity Champion is Dr. Melissa Walls, Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health, Department of International Health in the Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health. We celebrate and showcase some of what Dr. Walls is pursuing through her dedication to community-based participatory research in American Indian and First Nations Tribal communities. Congratulations, Dr. Walls on receiving this recognition as Health Equity Champion!

In every edition of Health Equity Matters, we strive to bring content that will aid our readers in advancing health equity wherever they are. The Office of Minority Health and Health Equity has a long and productive history in promoting the benefits of a diverse and inclusive public health workforce. Recently, the Biden administration issued a new Executive order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. I encourage you to get acquainted with this Executive Order as it can accelerate all people having the opportunity to attain their best health possible.

We look forward to receiving your comments, and please share Health Equity Matters with your professional networks. Be well and stay safe as we all work together to increase vaccination coverage and encourage people to continue to practice mitigation measures that will take us to the end of this pandemic.

Page last reviewed: August 4, 2021