Introduction and Welcome

Spring 2022

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

In March, I traveled by airplane for the first time in 2 years. Returning to the hustle and bustle of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was both foreign and familiar. For someone who has spent a significant percentage of time traveling for work, I was surprised at my initial reaction. So many people, so early in the morning. Will my KN95 mask provide the protection I need? After all, we are still in a pandemic.  Which way to TSA Pre-check?  Should I take the tram or walk the concourses like I used to? What will be the attitude of the passengers on the plane? I’ve heard so many “not good” stories.

By the time I arrived at the gate, I was back into my old Jackson-Hartfield rhythm. No worries. It was time to venture out beyond my usual routine and reconnect with family and friends. I was headed to a birthday celebration, and so glad I went as we created memories that will last for years to come.

Among other things, the pandemic has amplified how important our social connections and cohesion are to wellbeing. We have also had an opportunity to renew our commitment to health promotion, racial equity, and social justice for all.

March was Women’s History Month, and we salute women everywhere and applaud the changemakers as they make important strides to improve a variety of social, economic and health outcomes for women and girls. I especially want to thank the many women at CDC who are working 24/7 to protect and promote the health, safety and security of our nation and the world. Many are unsung s/heroes, but WE SEE YOU!

A special shout-out to CDC’s Office of Women’s Health as they continue to elevate and amplify attention to unique and often hidden issues that impact the health and wellbeing of women and girls. Of particular note, the Office of Women’s Health has committed to address gendered racism and discrimination in the workplace as one of its CORE health equity goals. This goal is bold and stands to be transformative as the Office of Women’s Health pursues and accomplishes a series of milestones toward the goal.

As you will read in this edition of Health Equity Matters, the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of so many people, including youth.  Feelings of isolation, helplessness and major disruptions to long-held routines, rituals, and traditions have contributed to poor mental health. CDC is taking up the charge to address this important public health issue.  We will keep our readers apprised as new initiatives emerge.

The last 2 years have taught us a lot about working with community-based organizations and national and local minority-serving organizations as we have partnered to reduce COVID-19 disparities. We describe some of those relationships in this issue. We are convinced we must sustain and nurture these partnerships as they are critical to our ability to reduce health inequities in communities who have for far too long suffered from largely preventable health disparities.

Our Health Equity Champion is ADM Rachel Levine, the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ADM Levine has a long and impressive track record for promoting and advancing health equity. She is committed to health equity for all and is especially passionate about ensuring safe and healthy spaces for LGBTQ+ youth. ADM Levine is celebrated by many for her strong public health leadership, and the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity is pleased to recognize her as a Health Equity Champion!

I hope our readers are able to set aside some quality time to read through all of the articles in this issue of Health Equity Matters.  We are proud to be a source of timely and credible public health information. Please share this issue and others with your colleagues and professional networks. The invitation to hear back from you about how we can make Health Equity Matters even more informative is still open.

Stay well. Practice radical self-care and find new ways to assure your health and wellness!

Page last reviewed: April 18, 2022