Los Angeles County health officials have launched the Center for Health Equity, an effort aimed at “advancing racial, social and environmental justice.”

The launch event in Compton this week kicked off a series of public “listening sessions” countywide.

“The community is coming together to address health inequity and to ensure that the voices of the underserved are heard,” said County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, adding that the launch shows “our continued commitment to closing the gaps in our most vulnerable communities.”

The center will focus initially on five areas:

—closing the gap in infant mortality for black, Native American and Native Hawaiian babies when compared to white and Asian babies;

—reducing disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections among men of color;

—reducing disproportionate exposures to environmental toxins in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods;

—improving fragmented care for residents with complex health issues; and

—ensuring cultural and linguistic competency among all county health care providers.

“Achieving health equity requires that our health care providers understand and respond effectively to the cultural and language needs of underserved communities,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, who leads the county’s Department of Mental Health.

The center’s listening sessions will seek input on best practices, critical partnerships and engagement strategies from community members and partners.