Across the United States, Latinos face an unprecedented number of challenges to their health. Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma disproportionately hit Hispanic communities. Many of these ills are preventable and can be managed through access to affordable healthcare. But socio-economic obstacles make it difficult for Latinos to access quality care.
Hispanic Federation has taken a national leadership role in raising awareness of Latino health disparities and promoting strategies to improve Latino health as well as increasing Latinos’ access to affordable and quality healthcare.
Our portfolio is anchored by three central goals:
- Increasing access to healthcare
- Supporting healthy lifestyles
- Advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights
Increasing Access to Healthcare
Historically, the single greatest obstacle to better health for millions of Latinos in the United States has been access to quality, affordable medical care. Beginning in 1998, HF began assisting families enroll into Medicaid and Child Health Plus and has since made healthcare more accessible for tens of thousands of Latino families.
HF’s role expanded under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). Currently, Hispanic Federation and four member agencies help New York families and small businesses enroll in health coverage through NY State of Health: The Official Health Plan Marketplace. Navigators provide eligible individuals with assistance in completing the enrollment application. They also help small businesses that want to purchase health insurance for their employers, as well as small business employees that want individual insurance policies.
LUCES HIV/AIDS Coalition
The AIDS epidemic in the United States disproportionately affects Latinos, with Latinos accounting for a quarter of all newly-diagnosed cases of the disease. More troubling is the fact that less than half of all Latinos living with HIV have access to medicines that can keep them alive.
For two decades now, the Hispanic Federation has been working to arrest the impact of this disease on the Latino community. In 1996, we created Latinos Unidos Contra El SIDA (LUCES), an HIV/AIDS education and advocacy coalition that has been at the forefront of securing needed resources and policies to combat the disease. LUCES has also given birth to groundbreaking prevention initiatives such as National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and Latino HIV Testing Month. Today, LUCES continues its work to develop public policy, serve as an advocate for a Latino HIV/AIDS agenda, and provide culturally-competent HIV/AIDS education and care to Latinos.
Get Up! Get Moving! Health Fair
Get Up! Get Moving! (GUGM) provides free screenings, physical fitness regimens, and health information and referrals, serving over 15,000 individuals since its inception. Hosted by HF in New York and Florida, GUGM boasts activities that promote a healthy lifestyle for all ages, offering alternatives to mainstream exercise.
As part of the health fair, participants are encouraged to explore diverse physical activities such as Zumba®, dancing, martial arts, and sports as options for losing or maintaining weight. Participants also are able to take advantage of an array of health screenings which include: BMI, glucose, blood pressure, skin sun damage, hepatitis C, eye exams, and HIV, among others.
Zumbando en el Barrio
Zumba®, the wildly popular type of dance exercise which fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into a fun and effective aerobic workout, is at the core of the Hispanic Federation’s Zumbando en el Barrio Initiative. This culturally-competent healthy lifestyle event provides a way for people of all ages to exercise and receive information on critical health issues affecting their communities.
Zumbando en el Barrio includes Zumbathons, one-day exercise sessions and chats which are featured from a main stage and/or booth exhibit ensuring an interactive experience for participants. In addition, Hispanic Federation provides multi-day programs that include workout sessions and healthy living information where participants have the opportunity to be weighed and receive BMI information.
SER (Salud Es Responsabilidad) Saludable / Be Healthy is an intergenerational initiative which uses physical education clinics, nutrition education and collaborations with other nonprofits to help Latino children, youth and adults live active, healthy lifestyles.
SER Saludable Fitness Challenge is an extended Ser Saludable series which offers Zumba classes to community participants over 8 consecutive weeks. The goal of the challenge is to jumpstart fitness activities so participants will continue with healthy exercise habits after the series. Hispanic Federation monitors weight gain/loss and a health expert/nutritionist is available at each session to counsel participants.
Latino Health Awareness Initiative
Latinos continue to be disproportionally affected by a variety of health issues, such as diabetes, lupus, and hepatitis C. According to the CDC, for example, Hispanics are about 50% more likely to die from diabetes or liver disease than whites.
The Latino Health Awareness Initiative focuses on diabetes education to impact diabetes related health outcomes in the Latino community. Through this initiative, the Hispanic Federation provides innovative educational workshop and activities, public education campaigns, and education using the promotora model.
In 2011 Hispanic Federation partnered with Mt. Sinai to launch Latino Diabetes Awareness Day. Today, through the Visa SI! Diabetes NO! coalition Hispanic Federation works with its partners to take a comprehensive and systematic look at diabetes in the Latino community through, research, education, physician engagement, advocacy, and detection.
Other health awareness activities include youth health engagement, Lupus research and education, lung health, and clinical trials awareness and education.
Nearly 3 million Hispanics nationwide are afflicted by asthma, and in fact Latinos are sixty percent more likely to visit the hospital emergency room because of this illness. In September 2015, Hispanic Federation launched the Hispanic Lung Health Education Campaign, a public education and advocacy campaign intended to raise awareness about asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and smoking cessation.
Key to the campaign is the Hispanic Asthma Call to Action. Hispanic Federation partners with 12 member agencies across New York City and in Northern New Jersey (Essex and Hudson counties) as asthma resource centers for Hispanics. These resource centers host workshops on asthma and lung health as well as provide referrals and/or appointments for clinical care for patients who need it.
Reproductive health and rights is critical to the Latino community. Unfortunately, a lack of access to quality reproductive healthcare and lack of knowledge concerning sexual and reproductive rights means that Latinos are more likely to experience reproductive cancers, unplanned pregnancies, sexual violence and sexually transmitted disease than other Americans. Hispanic Federation works to make sure that all Latinos have access to quality sexual and reproductive health services.
But our work extends beyond increasing access to healthcare. Our Reproductive Justice initiative is designed to challenge and change many of the structural issues that make it difficult for Latinos to take control over their reproductive health through raising awareness and advocating at the local, state and national level for policies which promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Hispanic Federation is also a partner in the I Am/Yo Soy campaign, which works to end silence about sex education, birth control, abortion, and young parenting. The campaign shows how understanding sexuality and reproductive health can make Latinos and their families more empowered, healthier and stronger. The campaign builds on a number of key principles:
- Decisions about birth control, abortion and parenting are ours to make
- Families need more access to health care and education, not less
- The need to speak out against attempts to restrict sexuality education or reproductive health options in our community
- The need to build tools and education to help us communicate with our young people openly about how to grow up safe and healthy