Dr. Leandris Liburd, the CDC’s Chief Health Equity Officer, talks about her job and the work underway to improve health equity in the U.S.; ASTHO has a new blog article reporting an increase in several categories of STDs across the nation; Dr....
Dr. Leandris Liburd, the CDC’s Chief Health Equity Officer, talks about her job and the work underway to improve health equity in the U.S.; ASTHO has a new blog article reporting an increase in several categories of STDs across the nation; Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner, says revised Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines help to ensure patients receive consistent advice about their care regardless of the provider they see; and Washington Post National Health Reporter Lena Sun will join a panel discussion at this year’s ASTHO Public Health Tech Expo planned for next month.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday April 14, 2022. I’m Robert Johnson.
Now, today’s news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
Health equity is at the top of every public health priority list, clarified for many by the way the COVID-19 virus has hurt some people more than others. Dr. Leandris Liburd is the CDC’s chief health equity officer, a position she took not long after the start of the pandemic. She tells us how it’s going and how we’re doing in today’s morning conversation.
You’ve been directing the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at CDC since 2011; but since May 2020, you’ve also served as chief health equity officer for the COVID-19 response, working to advance health equity as a priority across the COVID-19 response. How is that going so far?
DR. LEANDRIS LIBURD:
That’s correct, I have been with the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity since 2011. And early on in the pandemic in 2020, we started to observe that communities of color were really suffering at a higher level when we compared them to the rest of the population. And so, in response, the incident management structure within our response established the position of chief health equity officer and I was called into that role.
And we have been able to, over the two years of the pandemic, to really champion evidence-based approaches and practices to address the health disparities that we were seeing: we were able to really increase our communications to provide prevention messages in multiple languages; and we’ve been able to really effectively work across all of the task forces within the response to integrate a focus on health equity.
Can you give us an example where you’ve been able to achieve success on this front?
Yeah, absolutely. We have worked successfully with a number of national minority-serving organizations that reach into local communities and that have been consistent with our principles around engaging trusted community messengers and also, as I mentioned, really have increasing language access through the many translations of our prevention messages.
So, CDC has awarded millions of dollars to these national organizations and community-based organizations, we’ve invested in community health workers, and I think we’ve been just really successful at driving down to the community level and mobilizing community leaders to get involved with this pandemic.
What’s your advice for those who are working to advance health equity during this pandemic?
Well, my first advice is that we need to recognize that achieving health equity is good for the entire society. And I think one of the things that we’ve seen through the pandemic is that we’re more connected as a nation than we are separated; and so, we have to work together to ensure that all communities have the opportunity to attain their best health possible.
I think we also need to understand differences in access, we need to understand the importance and centrality of community engagement, and also really be able to see how community environments are different and how the differences in those environments help to shape negative health outcomes. And so, I’ve seen where the COVID-19 experience has really opened our eyes as a nation to the largely preventable suffering that a lot of communities endure; and that if we work together, pool our resources, we can make a difference.
Learn more about the CDC’s health equity efforts by clicking the link in the show notes.
Yesterday, Texas health commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt told us about rising rates of congenital syphilis in his state.
Today, ASTHO offers a blog article that says rates are climbing across the U.S. It includes the latest numbers, and they’re not good—among them, a 35% increase in congenital syphilis nation-wide between 2016 and 2020. Cases of gonorrhea are up as well.
The article is linked in the show notes.
Also, guidelines that encourage a standard of care for women across the nation have been updated. The Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines help to ensure patients receive consistent advice about their care regardless of the provider they see.
Indiana state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says consistency is key for the 50% of women who don’t receive adequate preventive care.
DR. KRISTINA BOX:
If a woman is in that 50% that’s not gotten regular preventive care, she may be very hesitant to do that. But if she then goes to her internal medicine doctor or to her cardiologist or advanced practice nurse that she’s dealing with, and hears the same thing, she’s much more likely to go forward and get that screening done.
You can read the updated guidelines using the link in the show notes.
Finally today, Washington Post’s national health reporter Lena Sun will join a panel discussion at this year’s ASTHO Public Health TechXpo, planned for May 10 and11. Sun takes the stage with ASTHO’s CEO Mike Fraser in a discussion about the future of healthcare.
You can be part of the conversation and learn about the latest technology available to help you do your job by signing up now. The Xpo is online and free to most people who work in public health. Sign up with the link in the show notes.
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That’ll do it for today’s newscast. Tomorrow, we revisit a popular discussion from a few weeks ago, then we’re back Monday with more ASTHO news and information.
I’m Robert Johnson. You’re listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.