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National Hispanic Medical Association Calls for National Hispanic Health Policy That Address Cultural, Other Barriers at 7th Annual Conference in Washington March 21-23

WASHINGTON, D.C.--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--March 17, 2003--Poor health literacy and machismo are hazards to the health of Hispanic men, but innovative community programs can help overcome that, according to a report being presented March 21 at the 7th annual conference of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA).

By addressing the cultural, linguistic and social barriers to good health, Latino men can be empowered to live healthier lives, as shown in one of many model programs that will be discussed at the conference of leading Hispanic health professionals.

"Model Hispanic Health Programs: Prevention, Treatment, Training and Research" is the focus of NHMA's conference March 21-23 at the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency, 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC. NHMA represents Hispanic physicians in the U.S.

After studying local programs and how they have effectively improved men's health, NHMA is bringing that knowledge together at the three-day conference and sharing it with other doctors and health officials in hopes of developing a national Hispanic health policy.

"We know that model Hispanic health programs work, and with the help of the federal government and its vast resources, we can implement programs and policies across the nation to improve the well-being of all Americans," said Dr. Elena Rios, NHMA president.

NHMA is prescribing, in part, a national health policy that would:

--Provide more research to understand the need for integrating culture and language in health delivery and
preventive medicine.

--Advocate for state and federal reimbursement for interpreter services in health care.

--Create a State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a federal program and expand it to include

--Expand existing programs to cover preventive services, including oral and mental health.

--Advocate for employee-based health insurance for migrant workers.

--Support community access programs, faith-based initiatives, community health centers and safety net providers.

--Increase recruitment of Hispanic students and faculty into the health professions.

--Increase support for the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).Those initiatives are based on the success of programs such as El Circulo De Hombres (the men's circle) in El Paso, TX, which tackles the widening disproportionate disparities in health care for Latino men and takes into account societal and cultural barriers to timely and preventive health care. For example, diabetes accounts for 4% of all deaths for Mexican-American men, vs. 2.5% for non-Hispanic whites. And 82% of Mexican-American men report sexual dysfunction, yet less than half will discuss it with their physician because of embarrassment. Also, 37% of Hispanic men, vs. 21% of non-Hispanic whites, die prematurely of heart disease.

Many Hispanic men don't go to the doctor, even when access is not an issue, because of the machismo attitude that seeking health care is a sign of weakness. El Circulo's program allows men to understand their illness and to openly discuss the stresses and anxieties that affect their well-being, while respecting their culture and without the fear of being considered weak or not macho.

Other speakers include Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA); Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX); Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL); Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-VI); Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX); Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA); Doug Badger, senior adviser to President Bush; Nathan Stinson Jr., deputy assistant secretary for minority health, HHS; and Leslie Sanchez, executive director, White House initiative on educational excellence for Hispanic Americans.

Presentations include:

--"Prevention: Community Clinic and Private Cultural Competent Models."

--"Treatment: Hispanic Special Populations."

--"Medical Education for Hispanics: Recruitment, Community Training & Data."

--"Medical Education: Training Program On Depression, Diabetes & Hispanics."

--"Human Genome Resources."

--"Treatment: Mental Health and Latinos."

"We have the tools to make this a stronger, healthier nation," Dr. Rios said. "Let's marshal this knowledge for the common good."

Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, NHMA represents licensed Hispanic physicians in the U.S. in its mission to improve health care for Hispanics and the underserved.

Source: Hispanic PR Wire

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