- CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity Prepares ‘Disease Detectives’ to Address Racism and Health
- The 2021 Williams-Hutchins Health Equity Award Winners from the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) Program
- OMHHE’s COVID-19 Supplemental Award to Reduce COVID-19-Related Health Disparities
CDC Office of Minority Health and Health Equity Prepares ‘Disease Detectives’ to Address Racism and Health
Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of CDC and administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), declared racism as a public health threat in April 2021. When doing so she emphasized, “Confronting the impact of racism will not be easy…I know that we can do this if we work together. I certainly hope you will lean in and join me.”
Recognizing the importance of leaning into institutional level change to confront the impact of racism on health, the leadership teams of the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) and Laboratory Leadership Service (LLS) programs approached the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) to explore the idea of developing opportunities for EIS and LLS Officers to learn about research and methods considerations relevant to the concepts of racism and health, minority health, and health equity science.
OMHHE’s Dr. Rashid Njai, an EIS alum, convened a small team of epidemiologists, health scientists, and behavioral scientists, many of whom were also EIS alum, to create an evidence-based course specifically designed for EIS and LLS Officers to explore both how racism impacts health and the roles public health researchers, practitioners, and leaders should play in advancing science that acknowledges the connection between the two. The programs included the inaugural course as part of their annual rigorous summer training course for first year Officers, marking the first time this topic was included in the foundational training for EIS and LLS Officers.
The initial training included a hands-on exercise where students were assigned a simple task but given varying levels of privilege and information as an example of how various forms of racism function in society. Additional topics included an exploration of the types of racism – interpersonal, internalized, and systemic/institutionalized – and how each effects health and reflections from presenters about their own personal and familial experiences with racism. The course concluded with a call to action for Officers to consider and recognize the importance of racism and health equity when approaching their work.
Established in 1951, EIS is a highly competitive, 2-year post-graduate fellowship in applied epidemiology. As CDC’s on-call disease detectives, EIS officers are among the agency’s first-line rapid responders and represent the future of public health leaders. CDC launched LLS in 2015 to develop future public health laboratory leaders and is closely aligned with EIS to promote interdisciplinary training, applied learning, and collaboration between laboratory scientists and epidemiologists.
The inaugural Racism and Health course was well received and the EIS and LLS programs asked the team to deliver the same training to the 2nd year Officers and to develop a second training specifically focused on analytic examples and methods to help Officers begin to employ appropriate methods when designing studies and collecting, analyzing, interpreting, and presenting data.
Dr. Njai hopes this is just the beginning of the collaboration between EIS, LLS, and OMHHE, “Integrating the impact of racism on health as a foundational element of the science EIS and LLS Officers, and other CDC fellows, conduct both during their training fellowships and in their future careers as public health scientists and leaders is key to helping CDC advance health equity.”
The 2021 Williams-Hutchins Health Equity Award Winners from the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) Program
Melina Rodriguez was awarded first place from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)’s UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program, for her project “The Imprisonment Epidemic: Addressing the Prison Industrial Complex Through a Public Health Lens.” Melina collaborated with others to facilitate a group discussion on mass incarceration and public health, presented on the topic, co-hosted a panel of professionals engaged in criminal justice reform, and shared public health strategies to address disproportionate rates of incarceration. Melina interned at VenaVer Events, where she engaged with community members and partners to decrease food insecurity. Camryn Williams and Marie Nzeyimana were selected as honorable mentions for the award.
OMHHE’s COVID-19 Supplemental Award to Reduce COVID-19-Related Health Disparities
As we celebrate National Minority Health Month in April, it is important to honor the efforts of OMHHE award recipients taking meaningful actions to reduce COVID-19 related disparities in communities of color. CDC’s cooperative agreement recipients continue to build the capacity of local and national organizations and institutions serving communities of color to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future health issues. The impact of OMHHE’s supplemental award recipients’ efforts span 22 states, Washington D.C., and territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The three recipients include the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forumexternal icon external icon(APIAHF)external icon, CDC Foundationexternal icon, and PROCEED, Inc.’s National Center for Training, Support and Technical Assistance (NCTSTA)external icon. In their second year of funding, these recipients will assist 11 returning community-based organizations (CBOs) and 17 new CBO partners with assessing community needs and implementing and evaluating evidence-based plans to increase COVID-19 mitigation strategies. At the core of their efforts will be community engagement to inform culturally responsive interventions and communication products in more than 20 languages. Recipients currently support the development and implementation of rapid needs assessments of their partners’ communities to guide their intervention strategies. Potential topics of focus for year two of this initiative include mental health, parental hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine for children, and general hesitancy towards the COVID-19 vaccine and booster.
APIAHF and their community partners are addressing COVID-19 misinformation in the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AA and NH/PI) communities in the metropolitan areas of Houston, TX and New York City, NY and the states of California, Hawaii, and Washington. The seven returning partners include Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairsexternal icon, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizationsexternal icon, Coalition for Asian Americans Children and Familiesexternal icon, NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Healthexternal icon, Pacific Islander Community Association of Washingtonexternal icon, Papa Ola Lokahiexternal icon/NH&PI Hawaii COVID 3R Teamexternal icon, and SEARACexternal icon. New partners include: Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundationexternal icon, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)external icon, NICOS Chinese Health Coalition (NICOS)external icon, Pacific Islander Health Partnershipexternal icon (PIHP)/Southern California Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response Teamexternal icon, and Philippine Nurses Association of America Foundation (PNAAF)external icon. APIAHF capacity building assistance includes facilitating collaborations between partners working with similar communities or developing similar products; helping disseminate and boost partner products through the National AA and NH/PI Health Response Partnershipexternal icon website and social media channels; and hosting virtual town halls and webinars, including COVID-19 community conversations.
CDC Foundation’s Southern Allianceexternal icon will engage eight CBOs in eight southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas) and Washington D.C. The Southern Alliance will expand relationships fostered with academic institutions during year one to support new CBO partnerships and programs to address COVID-19 health inequities in African American and non-Hispanic Black communities across the southern United States. The eight new Southern Alliance partners include: A Vision 4 Hopeexternal icon, Delta Health Allianceexternal icon, Destination Tomorrowexternal icon, Helping Hands Resource Groupexternal icon, Institute for the Advancement of Minority Healthexternal icon, Men with Vision, Montgomery Area Community Wellness Coalitionexternal icon, Renaissance Connection.external icon CDC Foundation’s capacity-building assistance will support COVID-19 vaccination education and navigation; access to resources for mental health and social stressors associated with COVID-19; building and sustaining community rapport; providing training to lay community to advance doula and community health worker access and knowledge; and promoting service delivery projects. CDC Foundation’s efforts aim to create resiliency in African American/Black communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including LGBTQ+, pregnant people, students, individuals with pre-existing health conditions, and people living in rural communities or with limited access to healthcare.
PROCEED, Inc. has engaged Latino/Latinx-serving community-based organizations in a collective effort, PODER en SALUD (Power in Health)external icon, to address the COVID-19 pandemic by providing locally tailored and culturally responsive information in English, Spanish, and other indigenous languages such as Mixteco. PODER en SALUD’s four returning partners (Farmworker Justiceexternal icon, El Centroexternal icon, Latino Commission on AIDS (LCAO)external icon, and Progreso Latinoexternal icon) serve New York City, NY and the states of Rhode Island, Kansas, Florida, Arizona, California, and Oregon. PODER en SALUD’s four new partners (National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC)external icon, Access to Racial and Cultural Health (ARCH) Instituteexternal icon, Migrant Health Center Western Region, Incexternal icon., Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Services, Research and Health Advancement (PR CONCRA))external icon expand their reach to include Washington D.C., the states of Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and Washington, and two territories: Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Populations of focus include Latino/Latinx youth, young adults, women, adults with disabilities, older adults, farmworkers and their families, faith-based communities, and people with lower income who are uninsured and/or underserved. PROCEED, Inc. is expanding its capacity building assistance activities offered to partners through peer-to-peer engagement opportunities, a partner toolkit, and Training of Trainers for Promotores. PROCEED, Inc. is also continuing social media COVID-19 outreach efforts, including piloting a social media influencer campaign that engages Latino/Latinx influencers to promote and develop content that will motivate communities to stay safe, get vaccinated, and access resources.
Learn more about the progress of these three initiatives by following their project websites: APIAHF’s National AA and NH/PI Health Response Partnership, external iconPROCEED, Inc.’s PODER en SALUDexternal icon, and the CDC Foundation’s Southern Allianceexternal icon.