Office of Multicultural Health/Comprehensive Cancer
Prepared by National Association of State Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)

Margaret M. Hynes, PhD, MPH
Senior Epidemiologist and Director
Office of Multicultural Health
Director – Health Equity Research, Evaluation, and Policy
Connecticut Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Avenue, MS #11PSI
Hartford, CT 06134
(860) 509-7135
Fax: (860) 508-8403

Organizational Structure/History

 The Connecticut State Legislature created the Connecticut Office of Multicultural Health (CT-OMH), Public Act 98-250, during the 1998 session. Section 19a-4j, 19a-4k, and 19a-7 of the State of Connecticut general statutes designates the Department of Public Health (DPH) as the lead agency for public health planning in Connecticut. In 1999, the CT-OMH published its first “Multicultural Health: The Health Status of Minority Groups in Connecticut” report. The health status assessment report documents disparities in specific social and health status indicators among Connecticut’s four racial and ethnic minority groups and White residents.

In 2000, the State Legislature created the Advisory Commission on Multicultural Health by an act implementing and making technical changes to the biennium ending June 30, 2001. The Advisory Commission on Multicultural Health is charged with:

    Advising the Commissioner of Public Health and the Director of the Connecticut Office of Multicultural Health (CT-OMH) within the Department of Public Health on the preparation and implementation of reports and strategic plans and the coordination of issues and policies related to the functions of the CT-OMH under section 19a-4j of the general statutes.

    Advising the commissioner of Public Health on the development of a multicultural health promotion plan and monitor the implementation of such plan.

    Submitting recommendations to the commissioner and the joint standing  committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to  public health concerning multicultural health issues, policies and programs.

 The Connecticut Department of Public Health supports the concept of a Multicultural Health Commission to improve the health of all Connecticut residents by eliminating gaps in the rate of disease, disability and death among the state’s ethnic, racial and cultural populations (Senate Bill 543: An Act Creating A Commission on Multicultural Health).

 In 2003, Commissioner Joxel Garcia, M.D. reorganized DPH, which resulted in the closure of CT-OMH.  In 2004, Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D. reorganized DPH, which resulted in the establishment of the Public Health Initiatives (PHI). The vision for PHI is that all people will achieve their optimal lifespan with the best possible quality of health in every stage of life.  In 2005, Commissioner J. Robert Galvin reorganized DPH, which resulting in a name change of Public Health Initiatives to the Office of Multicultural Health (OMH). 

Purpose/Mission Statement

 The mission of CT-OMH is to ensure that all people receive/benefit from effective and compre­hensive programs and services for health promotion and prevention of disease, injury, and disability. It is also the mission of CT-OMH to establish a dynamic inventory of current systems/services in place through DPH programs that address health disparities.  

Program Focus/Activities

 Health Initiatives/Programs/Services 

    In Fiscal Year (FY) 2000, the Connecticut Office of Multicultural Health (CT-OMH) received a State Partnership Initiative contract from the Federal Office of Minority Health to support a project designed to assess the capacity of public health databases to monitor health disparities among Connecticut’s multicultural populations. The project objectives are: (1) to assess the strengths and weaknesses of ethnic identifiers in existing data systems and gaps in available data; (2) to develop strategies for improved, uniform reporting of race and ethnicity across DPH databases; and (3) to develop a strategic plan. 

    In March 2001, the CT-OMH participated in the development and planning of the New England Minority Health Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities. The conference included a workshop to provide community-based organizations with skills to draft grant proposals to address health disparities. Public Health Initiatives is now participating in the development and planning of the 2005 New England Minority Health Conference to Eliminate Health Disparities. 

    In June 2004, Public Health Initiatives began overseeing the Connecticut Cancer Program. The function of the Connecticut Cancer Program is to provide leadership and guidance for the comprehensive cancer prevention and control strategic assessment, planning, and evaluation processes. 

    In 2005, OMH began overseeing the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and the WiseWoman Program

    In 2005 the name of the unit, Public Health Initiatives, was changed to now be the Office of Multicultural Health and Comprehensive Cancer.  

    In 2005 the Director of the CT-OMH became so-chair of the Planning Committee of the 2007 New England Region Minority Health Conference Planning Committee. 

    In 2006 the CT-OMH initiated regional Multicultural Roundtable discussions on the topic of Minority Women in Health Careers.  In 2006 the CT-OMH developed an educational booklet on preventing and controlling cancer targeted to people of color. 

    In 2006 the CT-OMH initiated a statewide Multicultural Health Network list serve to facilitate communication, coordination, and awareness building.  

    In 2007 the CT-OMH began partnering with colleagues in the state funded by the US Dept. of Justice to address human trafficking.  The CT-OMH aims to train health care personnel to recognize and care for subjects of human trafficking and to build into our statewide information and referral service, a mechanism for addressing some of the needs of these people. 

    In 2007 the CT-OMH has participated as part of the agency team working with medical translators in forming an organization of people and firms providing translation services.  The aim is to promote quality training, establish and/or adopt some universal standards to assure quality services. 

    In 2007 the CT-OMH is working with state partners to address the workforce development needs of the state to increase the number of health care and public health professionals who represent the demographics of our state and its communities.   

Technical Assistance and Training 

    In 2005 the Office initiated a Cross Cultural Training Committee (CCTC) to assess cultural competence among the public health and health care work force.  This project was started as part of the agency’s Maternal and Health Block Grant Plan of Work. A Pilot Cross Cultural Training Workshop was held in May of 2005 and evaluated.  Members of the CCTC include representatives of non-governmental organizations, state agencies, academia, professional organizations, and the regional HHS Office of Minority Health.

Level of Funding Sources


                Year          Federal                         State*                 Private

FY 2005                0                                  0                         0

            FY 2006                0                         70,000                         0

            FY 2007                0                         75,000                         0

            FY 2008                0                         75,000                         0

*Salaries of staff 


 Public Health Initiatives is staffed with two employees–the director and an administrative assistant.  Both spend approximately 50% of their time doing this work.  

Recent Publications

 You’ve Got the Power: To Lover Your Chances of Getting Cancer