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Advocates Work To Close Health Gap For Latinos

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Health experts and advocates from around the country gathered in San Antonio Tuesday to share ideas for improving health in the Latino community. 

The National Council of La Raza is a Hispanic civil rights group.  It chose San Antonio for its health summit because of the work the city has done to promote nutrition and physical activity for all its residents.

La Raza’s Delia Pompa  says, there are significant health disparities between the Latino community, and the general population.  That’s something this conference is trying to address. 

"Unfortunately Latinos are over represented in poverty statistics, so those numbers really effect things like chronic disease, access of healthy food, healthy lifestyles, affordability of insurance," says Pompa. "All of those kinds of things that end up being the chronic diseases that we want to prevent.” 

Manuela McDonough with La Raza’s Institute for Hispanic Health says one way to reach the uninsured and difficult to reach members of the Latino community is through promotoras.

“A community health worker, promotor de salud that is a trusted community member who has those ties within the community, that can provide information and provide navigation services for those people that aren’t connected," says McDonough.

McDonough says the community health worker model is centuries old, but there’s no national certification process for these sometimes informal community liaisons.

McDonough says her organization is working with local affiliates, including those in Texas, to campaign for federal funding to sustain promotoras across the country.