Opening Statement by Jessica Swafford Marcella, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at the U.S. Presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination concerning the U.S. Report on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Report) Committee on the Elimination of
[Madame] Chairperson, Members of the Committee, and representatives of civil society: I am Jessica Swafford Marcella, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
I am honored to share with you today the Department of Health and Human Services’ work to eliminate racial discrimination.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted long-standing racial disparities in health outcomes and access to health care, serving as another reminder of the work to be done to achieve health equity.
HHS is committed to addressing inequities by changing policies, programs, and processes and institutionalizing a focus on equity over time. For example, we are now assessing for potential equity impacts before making our budgets and policy changes and are reconsidering how we best build capacity and fund organizational partners who are trusted intermediaries to people who experience inequities.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Committee about HHS’ important work in this area. I am pleased to turn the floor to my colleague, Catherine (LAY-man), representing the Department of Education.