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Maine CDC Hires Head For New Office Of Population Health Equity

The Maine CDC has hired the former executive director of a farmworker and immigrant advocacy organization to run its new Office of Population Health Equity.

For more than a decade, Ian Yaffe led Mano en Mano, which offers resources and support to farmworkers and new Mainers in Downeast Maine. Earlier this year, he joined the state Department of Health and Human Services.

In his new role, Yaffe will lead the newly established Office of Population Health Equity, which had existed under a previous name but was dissolved in 2015. The office is tasked with addressing health disparities for many communities, including racial groups, women and LGBT populations.

The office will also help to implement a $32 million federal grant awarded to the department to focus on disparities related to COVID-19 in underserved communities. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine came under fire because of the disproportionate effect of the virus on Black and African-American residents.

State officials say the new office's work will "extend well beyond the boundaries of the pandemic" and tackle other issues, including environmental health and chronic disease prevention.