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A Look at Health Equity in the Fight Against COVID-19

As the commemoration of Juneteenth continues, we recognize the heritage and storied journey of Black and African American communities to achieve and enjoy the liberty and freedoms of our country. Justice for all is not fully realized when there is no equitable access to health resources. Racial and ethnic minoritized populations experience structural and disproportionate burdens during public health crises, especially within predominantly Black and African American and other neighborhoods where minoritized populations live. Throughout the COVID-19 response, CDC has promoted  a comprehensive health equity strategy to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes in minority communities. You can learn more about how the CDC is advancing health equity.

CDC’s COVID-19 Response Strategy to Health Equity

Addressing these concerns, CDC’s COVID-19 Response Health Equity Strategy focuses on using data-driven approaches to lead culturally responsive outreach, reducing health disparities and stigma, as well as fostering meaningful engagement with community institutions and diverse leaders. This involves developing guidance to implement programs and practices that are tailored to meet the needs of diverse populations. Some of the outreach  conducted during the pandemic included listening sessions with a network of HBCUs to determine issues impacting Black and African American communities and enlisting support in mobilizing the adoption of COVID-19 preventive strategies, including staying up to date on vaccinations. CDC has also helped public health agencies expand testing and contact tracing as well as improve data collection to track COVID-19 disparities to ensure Black and African American people are represented in research studies.

Advancing Health Equity for a Healthier Nation

As COVID-19 evolves, achieving health equity requires a whole-of-society approach. Commitment from decision makers, public health agencies, healthcare providers, employers, academic institutions, and faith-based and community organizations is needed to strengthen cross-sector partnerships and foster transparent conversations. By working together, we can build trust within communities, share resources, and implement culturally relevant programs that educate and encourage healthy living for all. Reducing  barriers to high quality  health care and improving  access to the resources and services that protect and promote health will be vital to Black and African American communities fully enjoying the freedoms for which their ancestors fought.

Take part in community efforts to support healthy living for all, and learn more about CDC’s initiatives in advancing health equity.

The author, Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, plays a critical leadership role in determining CDC’s vision for health equity, ensuring a rigorous and evidence-based approach to the practice of health equity, and promoting the ethical practice of public health in communities vulnerable to health inequities. In May 2020, she became CDC’s first Chief Health Equity Officer for the COVID-19 Response, the first time in the agency’s history that this role and function was added to the leadership of an Incident Management Structure.


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