While health care disparities in the United States persist among minorities, there are organizations who are making strides when it comes to Hispanic health awareness and intervention, and many offer programs available to any communities seeking assistance.
The National Alliance for Hispanic Health
The National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH), based in Washington, D.C, is an organization focused on helping Hispanic communities achieve health goals through specially designed programs. By offering complimentary lifestyle guides and outreach programs to Latino communities, the NAHH, headed by President and CEO Jane Delgado, offers many programs including the following:
- Arthritis programs for national and local health care providers designed for “culturally- and linguistically-proficient access to services and information” for the Hispanic community.
- Hablemos del cancer (Let’s talk about cancer) and ¡Infórmate! (Get informed!), two programs designed for Hispanic-specific cancer outreach. Both programs are aimed at providing multilingual information and education to consumers and medical providers.
- Community outreach programs have been formed through partnerships with the Food and Drug Administration and Medicaid program to ensure all eligible children are covered with health insurance, and to relay important consumer product information to the Hispanic community.
The NAHH is also active in politics, making sure the Latino community is acknowledged and important minority issues are addressed.
Their mission, says the NAHH, is “to improve the health of Hispanic communities and work with others to secure health for all. The National Alliance for Hispanic Health is the nation’s foremost source of information on Hispanic health and a science-based and community driven advocate for health.”
National Council of La Raza
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) was founded in the 1960s when civil rights became a hot topic in the United States. The organization is the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy group in the nation, and addresses many issues affecting the Hispanic community including immigration, education, employment, empowerment, research, and healthy living.
NCLR keeps the Latino community up to date on current health trends, annually sponsoring campaigns to drive health awareness within the community. The current health focus is the program A Thin Line. In a partnership with MTV, NCLR rallies against cyber bullying, a form of digital discrimination that can have serious negative mental health ramifications. The campaign will feature Latino stories on MTV shows such as True Life and a number of specially made public service announcement spots.
The Hispanic Health Council
The Hispanic Health Council (HHC) was founded in Connecticut after the tragic death of a Latino infant occurred in the state because the mother, who could only speak Spanish, was unable to communicate with medical providers about her child’s condition. The baby died of dehydration.
After hearing the story, Maria Borrero, the first director of the Hispanic Health Council, “formed the Puerto Rican Health Committee to push city hospitals to address the cultural and linguistic barriers that alienated Puerto Ricans from the health care system.”
While nationally recognized and active in Latino issues, the HHC offers community-based programs primarily in Connecticut. For Hispanics residents, the organization offers:
- Nutrition assistance programs
- Cancer support
- Diabetes programs
- Women and children’s health programs
- HIV education
- Substance abuse and recovery assistance
- Parenting support
- Health screening programs (mammography, blood pressure, prostate health)
As an active force in the Connecticut Latino community, the HHC serves a model for other state programs around the country.
The National Hispanic Health Foundation
The National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) was founded in 1994, and has since gained the support of the Office of Minority Health. The organization focuses on programs for research, education, information dissemination, and training.
NHHF also offers a scholarship program for Hispanic students looking for a degree in health care.
“There is a dearth of Hispanic health professionals in the United States,” says the organization. “Only four percent of all physicians, three percent of all dentists, and two percent of all total nurses are Hispanic. We must increase these numbers. The National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) has developed a unique program to award scholarships to talented students, the future leaders in health care.”
Currently, the NHHF is working on an obesity and diabetes initiative. The campaign will last for two years and will focus on empowering Hispanic physicians to educate their communities about the medical conditions.
The Office of Minority Health
A part of the federal government’s Health and Human Services department (HHS), the Office of Minority Health (OMH) has been instrumental in overseeing the reduction of health disparities for the nation’s Latino population.
The goals of the Office of Minority Health include transforming health care, strengthening the workforce, advancing health and well-being of all people, and advancing scientific knowledge and research.
The government agency has a number of programs in place or soon-to-be in place including:
- The Youth Tobacco Elimination Project
- The National Hepatitis B Initiative
- Development of the HIV/AIDS Latino Mentoring Training Institute
- The Latino Behavioral Health Workforce Development program
- The Healthy Equity for Minority Persons with Disabilities program
- The Sickle Cell Disease Initiative
“With the HHS Disparities Action Plan, the Department commits to continuously assessing the impact of all policies and programs on racial and ethnic health disparities,” states the OMH website. “It will promote integrated approaches, evidence-based programs and best practices to reduce these disparities. The HHS Action Plan builds on the strong foundation of the Affordable Care Act.”