This year, Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health celebrates its 30th year anniversary and launched the theme, “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation” to observe National Minority Health Month. What does this mean for the Asian American community and our patients at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center? What does this mean to me?
The term “Health Equity” has been a trending phrase in the public health world, and it continues to dominate in spaces that align with advocating for social justice, addressing social determinants of health, and providing opportunities for the underserved. I first encountered the term “Health Equity” when I came across a simple, yet powerful image entitled “Equality Doesn’t Mean Justice.” It illustrates the stark difference between two often interchanged terms: equality and equity.
These two images point out that equality is giving everyone the same resources, but this only works if everyone starts from the same place. Equity is providing access to the same resources or opportunities. At the Health Center, we believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to achieve their highest level of health. This means that we provide quality and comprehensive care to all members of our community no matter their ability to pay or their citizenship status. In the Health Education Department, we provide extra support to the populations we serve by developing and disseminating culturally and linguistically appropriate health resources. Our materials are shared through various online and print platforms, outreach and tabling events, coalition meetings, local businesses, educational workshops, and 1-1 counseling.
For me, “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation” is about recognizing my personal areas of privilege. This includes the opportunity to earn degrees from higher education institutions through federally funded loans, having a strong and reassuring support system, and the opportunity to live in a safe home and neighborhood. By recognizing these areas of privilege, I proactively choose to raise awareness that systemic barriers exists and support underrepresented minority groups access and navigate resources that are culturally relevant and language appropriate. As we celebrate National Minority Health Month, it is imperative to acknowledge that there are severe gaps with providing equitable opportunities for minorities, particularly the Asian American community. The responsibility to bridge these gaps, as minorities, is on us. These are some examples that I believe are how we can take part in the movement of health equity:
- We need to develop more strategic partnerships with well-funded institutions, city agencies, and grassroots organizations that have aligned goals to serve minority populations.
- We need to incorporate addressing minority health in all initiatives that drive socio-economic factors like affordable housing, job opportunities, and access to fresh and healthy food.
- We need to create mentorship programs that focus on connecting minority students with other minority public health professionals.
- We need to advocate for data disaggregation to provide improved funding streams, since different Asian American ethnicities have unique social, educational, and economic experiences and issues.
Supporting minority health can be as simple as retweeting a message that supports Health Equity for the Asian American community or can be as extensive as rallying groups to push Bill Intro 251 on data disaggregation. Each of us has a role to play for accelerating health equity, and I choose to be proactive in utilizing my extensive networks to raise awareness and provide tools and opportunities for our issues to be heard and addressed.
Written by Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, EdM
Rachelle Peraz Ocampo, EdM is the Associate Director of Health Education at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She is also a Lead Co-Host of Makilala TV, the first Fil-Am TV Talk Show in the NY metro area and is on the Board of Directors for Roots Of Health which provides free clinical services and health education to women in the Philippines. Ever since her involvement with Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UniPro), she has always been challenging herself to lead in spaces that help raise the Filipino American voice. Follow Rachelle’s passions: @RockyRach16 @CBWCHC @MakilalaTV @ROHorg @UniProNow