MINORITY HEALTH: Women Key to Improving Overall Community Health
Better care for minority women is "a key to improving the health" of minority communities, speakers said last week at a meeting of the 50 Plus and Strong Alliance, a coalition of health groups focusing on health issues for women over 50. Viola Gonzales, executive director of the Latino Issues Forum, said, "The women are sort of the glue in the family. They have to figure out how to maneuver through the health market that now exists to provide care for different people." The AP/Sacramento Bee reports that minority women face many barriers in accessing health care, including racism, language, "poor quality facilities" and lack of insurance coverage. But panel participants said that there are steps "that are or should be undertaken" to improve minority women's health, such as involving more minorities in clinical trials. In addition, the CDC's review of African-American health care has been studying how to make "cultural competency" a part of medical school coursework. Latonya Slack, executive director of California Black Women's Health Project, said, "If it doesn't happen at the educational level, it's really almost a moot issue." Other participants called for partnerships with "major health businesses" such as drug makers. Participants also discussed how to disseminate information to minority women. A 1998 study by the Field Institute found that non-Hispanic white, black and Asian women prefer printed sources of information, but Hispanic women prefer broadcast media. Still, Gonzales argued that well-written brochures are not adequate solutions. She said, "It isn't enough to translate a piece of information. So you translate a brochure that says go visit your doctor (but) you don't have access to a doctor. Well, that's not going to do you any good." Gonzales did point out one "promising development" --the use of "promotores," or respected peer educators, who visit homes and meet with community groups to discuss "healthy habits and related issues." Gonzales said, "It's the idea of building health educators who do not come out of the medical profession" (Henshaw, 7/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.