Introduction and Welcome

Winter 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.

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

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

As we begin this year, I want to pay tribute to all of my CDC colleagues who at great personal sacrifice continue to work 24/7 to protect our nation and the world as we move through this unprecedented global pandemic.  You are a global treasure.  Thank you.

This year I chose not to make any New Year’s resolutions. Not that I wouldn’t benefit from some sound health, financial, and relationship goals, but might it just make more sense to reflect upon past resolutions and figure out how to jumpstart or reimagine them for the times we all find ourselves in?

We are two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. What more have I learned about protecting my health now and for the future? Am I staying on track with the financial goals I set 2 years ago? Am I spending the quality time with family and friends I committed to years ago as the time I spend working has increased? Am I walking away from my computer for at least 1 hour each day to get outside and go for a walk? Have I made peace with the fact that my email volume will always exceed my ability to respond as quickly as I’d like?  Can I make 2022 the year I actually use the annual leave I earn throughout the year? I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point…

I do have big goals for the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity this year! Our staffing is set to grow by almost 40% which will add much needed capacity to ensure we provide the leadership and expertise to advance health equity both within CDC and with our partners. We have committed to 4 audacious health equity goals as part of CDC’s CORE Commitment to Health Equity, and we will share accomplishments in achieving these goals with you in the months ahead.

We are expanding the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program (CUPS) and the James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellowship to give more students an opportunity to receive this valuable public health practice and research experience. In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the CUPS program, we collaborated with the journal, Pedagogy in Health Promotion to publish the impact and lessons learned from the programexternal icon.  We couldn’t be prouder of the students who completed the program or of their mentors and sponsoring universities. We hope you will take time to read this special issue and learn more about how the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity and its academic partners are contributing to a diverse, inclusive and equitable public health workforce.

I also want to thank Dr. Roland Thorpe, Jr.,external icon Professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, for graciously serving as Guest Editor for this special issue of Pedagogy in Health Promotion on CUPS. Dr. Thorpe is a nationally recognized expert on health equity, men’s health, aging in minority populations, place-based disparities, and social justice in public health. He is also a distinguished faculty member having taught and mentored students from across the country. In 2022, we will extend our collaborations with distinguished scholars like Dr. Thorpe as we launch new efforts to better understand and disrupt patterns and practices of racism that undermine health. There is so much more that I can say about the big goals ahead for our office, but I will save them for future editions of Health Equity Matters.

As always, our Communications Team has produced another timely issue with data and other program information on topics such as HIV, obesity, overdose deaths, increasing vaccine access in underserved communities, and other priority health issues that disproportionately impact communities of color. There are articles on health literacy and initiatives to address structural racism.

In this edition, we also celebrate the contributions of Dr. Carlos del Rio, Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, as Health Equity Champion. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. del Rio has been featured on national TV as a respected and trusted messenger, educating and advising the public. Thank you, Dr. del Rio, for all you do to protect communities that experience a high burden of infectious diseases. Congratulations on your many accomplishments and this recognition by CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity!

In closing, thanks to all of our readers for starting the new year with Health Equity Matters! I cannot tell you how much we value and appreciate your readership, and as always, we welcome your comments.

Page last reviewed: January 14, 2022