During this summer’s Medical Colleges and Universities Roundtable, we promised to provide you with periodic updates on the status of health disparities programs and related workforce issues here at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I wanted to let you know about several important updates and upcoming events:
- Leadership Update: As you may know, Dr. Walter W. Williams has begun a new assignment as a medical epidemiologist in the Assessment Branch, Immunization Services Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Although I am pleased for Walter, he will be missed in his leadership role in our Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHD). The search for a new director is underway, and until a permanent director is named, Ms. Tamara Kicera will act as director of OMHD. In addition, the office is proposing a name change from OMHD to the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE), which is more in line with the direction of our agency’s work.
- National Partnership for Action (NPA) to End Health Disparities: The Partnership is in the process of finalizing the National Plan for Action, which is the first national plan on disparities issued by an HHS Secretary. The plan is an important adjunct to the health disparities provisions in the Affordable Care Act and responds to Congressional requests for a national health disparities strategy. Some of you may have been involved in the development and review of this plan, and we look forward to working with you closer to the release of this important plan, anticipated for December 2010.
- CDC’s Health Disparities Report: In early December, CDC will issue the first CDC Health Disparities Report, which addresses disparities in mortality, morbidity, behavioral risk factors, and social determinants of selected health problems in the United States. The report will contribute to the achievement of the Awareness and the Data/Research/Evaluation goals of the NPA by consolidating the most recent national data available on disparities in the United States through selected indicators. We are in the process of developing a nationwide engagement plan to immediately follow the release of the report.
- New Minority Health Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): CDC has the opportunity to build from the recommendations of our May meeting to refine our approach to funding that comes from the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. In FY 2011, CDC plans to release a new FOA that creates a national program for the training of minority undergraduate students in public health and the biomedical sciences to provide early pipeline opportunities for careers in public health. We will share more details once the new FOA is published.
- CDC Vital Signs: In July, CDC began an important new program called CDC Vital Signs, which is a call to action each month concerning a single, important public health topic. Topics that have been released to-date include: colorectal and breast cancer, obesity, binge drinking, smoking, and secondhand smoke. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.
- Senior Leadership Appointments at CDC: Senior leadership positions recently announced at CDC include Rear Admiral Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH, Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; Christopher J. Portier, PhD, Director, National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; Beth P. Bell, MD, MPH, Director, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; Linda C. Degutis, DrPH, MSN, Director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
I look forward to providing additional updates as our efforts progress. Thank you again for your interest.
With highest regards,
Janet L. Collins, Ph.D.