2009 Asian American Health Initiative Conference “A Time for Change”

Last week, I got the chance to attend the Asian Amer­i­can Health Con­fer­ence, spon­sored by Asian Amer­i­can Health Ini­tia­tive. It was a great expe­ri­ence meet­ing pub­lic health advo­cates and experts (as well as allies, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and more) and hear­ing about the rel­e­vant issues in the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty. Asian Amer­i­can Health Ini­tia­tive does great work in Mont­gomery Coun­ty ensur­ing that Asian Amer­i­cans enjoy equi­ty and access to qual­i­ty health­care and the con­fer­ence gave me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn more about their work, but also the work of oth­er health-relat­ed orga­ni­za­tions around the coun­try.

AAHI con­duct­ed a needs assess­ment sur­vey of Asian Amer­i­cans in Mont­gomery Coun­ty and one of the pre­sen­ta­tions at the con­fer­ence was devot­ed to their process and find­ings. Mont­gomery Coun­ty has the high­est per­cent­age of Asian Amer­i­cans in Mary­land mak­ing up near­ly 14% of the pop­u­la­tion. The AAHI needs assess­ment uti­lized focus groups with major ethnic/national ori­gin groups as well as a few of the small­er ethnic/national ori­gin groups. Focus groups were made up of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers from all walks of life from pro­fes­sion­als to retirees and seniors. More­over, they also con­duct­ed a young adults focus group made up of mixed ethnic/national ori­gin youths. Par­tic­i­pants iden­ti­fied a num­ber of stres­sors from strug­gling to fit in (young adults) to iso­la­tion and lone­li­ness (seniors). In terms of obsta­cles to health care acces, the study iden­ti­fied finan­cial, phys­i­cal, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers. Per­sis­tent gaps that I picked up dur­ing this pre­sen­ta­tion, and real­ly, all the ple­nar­ies and break­out groups were the need for lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al pro­fi­cien­cy, the lack of dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data about Asian Amer­i­can health out­comes and the lack of access to afford­able health insur­ance. To read the whole report, vis­it AAHI <http://www.aahiinfo.org/english/programs/needsAssesment.php>

Arthur Chen, Chief Medical Officer-Alameda Alliance for Health

Arthur Chen, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer-Alame­da Alliance for Health

Anoth­er high­light from the event was the keynote speech from Arthur Chen, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer of the Alame­da Alliance for Health. Chen’s remarks gave a very con­tex­tu­al and com­pli­cat­ed view of the fac­tors con­tribut­ing to the unequal access to qual­i­ty health­care for Asian Amer­i­cans and oth­er minori­ties. From civic engage­ment to hold­ing leg­is­la­tors account­able to fis­cal and mon­e­tary man­age­ment, access to health­care is deeply inter­twined with the oth­er issues we are expe­ri­enc­ing as a nation. More­over, to address gaps in health­care ade­quate­ly we must be ready to tack­le oth­er per­sis­tent inequal­i­ties in our coun­try and around the world.

The theme of the whole con­fer­ence was “A Time for Change: Trans­form­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties into Action” and I think every­one was excit­ed to see what we as a com­mu­ni­ty can do to make a real, pos­i­tive change for health­care acess for all.