December 2, 2020

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Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536

Charles Gischlar, Deputy Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-6491

Maryland Department of Health annual health equity conference to address the impact of COVID-19 on minority communities


Baltimore, MD—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD) today announced that this year’s annual health equity conference—Reshaping Social Justice, Public Health and Healthcare Delivery for a New Future Beyond COVID-19—will take place virtually on Thurs., Dec. 3. The event will focus on issues related to COVID-19 and minority populations, including stakeholder response and strategies to inform future health policy.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on minority communities across Maryland, revealing the extent to which certain social determinants contribute to health disparities,” said MHHD Director Dr. Noel Brathwaite. “We’re bringing together experts, policymakers and community leaders to collaborate on how to address some of these larger systemic issues so we can build healthier communities today and in the future.”


According to MHHD, as the pandemic surges and peaks disparities also peak, with data revealing disproportionate differences for racial and ethnic minorities. The COVID-19 daily case rate per 100,000 population has peaked at 2.6 times greater for Black people as for white people, and 6.2 times greater for Hispanic people as for non-Hispanic people in Maryland. Death rates have also been higher for Hispanic and Black people in Maryland when compared to white people


This year’s conference will feature topical breakout sessions, leadership awards and a tribute to former Deputy Secretary for Public Health Fran Phillips, who retired in July. Conference speakers include: 


  • State Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

  • State Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk

  • MDH Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan

  • MDH Acting Secretary Dennis R. Schrader  

  • MDH Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health Dr. Aliya Jones

  • Maryland Primary Care Program Executive Director Dr. Howard Haft 

  • Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Sherita Hill-Golden 

  • University of Maryland Maryland Center for Health Equity Director Dr. Stephen Thomas 


Dr. Aletha Maybank will be recognized as recipient of the tenth annual Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Leadership Award. Dr. Maybank is the Chief Health Equity Officer and Vice President of the American Medical Association. She also serves as the Director of the Center for Health Equity in New York City. 


Alejandra Ivanovich will be recognized as recipient of the Health Equity Excellence in Community Advocacy Award. Ivanovich is a Baltimore County-based author, human rights activist, community leader and healthcare advocate who has spent the past two decades championing the rights of diverse marginalized communities. 


Conference participation is open to the public. Continuing education units and contact hour credits are available. 


For more information about MHHD, visit


To register for the conference, visit 


The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement. 

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