Regional Conference Addresses Latino Health Disparities, Policy Impacts

October 26, 2015

Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University, in partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Regional Primary Care Coalition, hosted a conference on October 7, 2015 to discuss the high burden of health problems that affect Latinos living in the Metropolitan DC area and efforts underway to address these health burdens.

The conference, which was attended by health officials, policy experts, and community leaders, was an opportunity for GW’s Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health and its partners to discuss research, best practices, and policy solutions that might help strengthen the way the region addresses Latino health disparities. 

During the conference, COG released a directory for health providers who serve the Hispanic communities of metropolitan Washington, which includes agencies offering health care services, programs for children and the elderly, as well as those that specialize in searching for housing and employment.

Download the Latino Health & Community Resources 2015-2016 Directory.

​U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks to conference attendees 

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Chair of the Healthcare Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was a featured speaker.  Walter Tejada, vice chairman of the Arlington County Board, Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, and Jackie Reyes, director of the Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs in the District of Columbia, discussed policy solutions for health disparities and other serious concerns in Latino communities. 

The October 7 event also featured talks by Mark Edberg, PhD, director of the Avance Center and Faith Mitchell, PhD, president of Grantmakers In Health, a national nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to helping foundations and corporate giving programs reduce health disparities. Dr. Edberg gave a brief summary and update on the multiple research, intervention, and community activities ongoing at the Avance Center. Chuck Bean, executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Sharon Zalewski, executive director of Center for Health Care Access at the Regional Primary Care Coalition, provided welcoming remarks.

The event also included breakout sessions focusing on immigration policy and its impact on health programs that provide integrated behavioral health services for Latinos and immigrants who may struggle with language and other barriers that can hinder access to care; emerging research on a project called Water Up that aims to reduce the risk of obesity/diabetes in Latino populations; a discussion of ways to combat high rates of domestic violence; innovative approaches to management of chronic health conditions; and new data on reducing problems that often occur together in the community—namely substance abuse, risky sex and gang violence.

The Avance Center, which is based at Milken Institute SPH, was established in 2012 to better understand and address health disparities that affect immigrant/refugee communities both in the DC metropolitan area and nationwide. The Regional Primary Care Coalition is a collaboration of local philanthropic organizations and primary health care providers committed to improving the health of vulnerable populations and advancing health equity in metropolitan Washington, D.C. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is an independent, nonprofit association that brings area leaders together to address major regional issues in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia. 

Univision coverage of the event:

Regional Latino Health Disparities Conference (En Espanol) from COG Video on Vimeo.