By Manuela McDonough, Program Manager, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR
For Hispanic Heritage Month this year, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) had an opportunity to participate in two very exciting events at the White House that celebrated the history, culture, and contributions of Latinos in the U.S.
A September 26 briefing focused on the promotores de salud (community health workers) program model. Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and former NCLR Senior Vice President, opened the session by talking about the importance of addressing Latino health issues in a culturally competent manner. Other high-level government officials and community-based researchers followed by sharing examples of successful promotores projects.
The highlight of the event, however, was a memo from President Obama honoring National Promotores de Salud and Community Health Workers Day. In the memo, President Obama said that promotores “play a critical role in closing our country’s healthcare gaps,” and through their tireless efforts promotores are contributing to the well-being and health of this nation. The president’s recognition of the hard work that these committed professionals and volunteers do give hope to the future of promotores programs. These vital members of the community have been underappreciated for many years.
For the second event, NCLR had an opportunity work directly with the White House Office of Public Engagement to organize a Latino Health Policy Briefing for our Board members and Affiliates. On October 11, approximately 30 Affiliate leaders and Board members gathered from throughout the country to participate in this briefing, which emphasized the Affordable Care Act. The briefing provided an opportunity to elevate the key interests and needs of our Affiliates as we enter a new stage of health care reform implementation. Our Affiliates and Board members heard from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the top health appointee from the National Economic Council, and the U.S. Chief Technology Officer on improving access via system transformation, achieving health equity, and improving cultural competency in service delivery.
Now that Hispanic Heritage Month is over, we are moving forward with a clearer understanding of the Obama administration’s approach to addressing the growing health needs of the Latino population. We can be proud of what Latinos have done to make us a healthier country.