The American population has grown diversely over the years. According to the 2010 Census report, it was indicated that approximately 36% of the population is attributed to an ethnic minority or racial group (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). Despite advances made towards the eradication of racial discrimination, various instances such as institutional discrimination still persist in the society, hence creating an illusion of equality in the country. These instances can be revealed in various indicators such as in education, health, and economic status. These indicators are interconnected, where one affects the other. In this regard, this paper will focus on the Latino minority group and the revelations of disparities that exist as per the indicators identified above, in comparison with the national average.
According to LaVeist (2013), health status is a holistic aspect that can be explained beyond the confines of presence or absence of disease, and in which case, life expectancy, mental and physical well-being concepts are considered. The Latino population is currently the largest minority group in the country, which according to the Office of Minority Health (2015), makes up 16.9% of the U.S population. Unfortunately, this population has been impacted by significant health disparities, mainly involving high precedence rates in substance abuse, diabetes, obesity, and HIV/AIDS.
In this regard, according to CDC (2016), the Latino population is 50% more likely to die from liver disease or diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death, which equates to 2 of 5 deaths, similar to that for whites. However, compared to the white population, Latino people have lower death rates from the 10 leading causes of death, with exceptions in chronic liver disease and diabetes.
Additionally, according to the national average for obesity placed at 36.5%, the Hispanic population accounts for 42.5%, coming second to the African-American population at 48.1% (CDC, 2016). However, Hispanic children lead in the obesity rates in the country at 22.4% from the national average of 16.9%.
LaVeist (2013) defines health promotion as the process of increasing control and access to health among people. This goes beyond individual efforts, as it encompasses social and environmental interventions. In this regard, despite advancements made towards improving health promotion among American population, various barriers hamper this achievement among the Hispanic population.
This situation has been attributed to an increasing number of uninsured individuals as well as a disproportionate representation of the Latino population in the low economic strata. According to LaVeist (2013), this population has the lowest insurance coverage than compared to other racial groups in the country. In this regard, accessibility to affordable and quality healthcare is impeded, further widening the health promotion gap.
Moreover, cultural beliefs influence accessibility of healthcare among the Hispanic population. A majority of individuals still believe in folk healing and illnesses, giving precedence to healing traditions such as spiritualism or Santeria (saints). In this case, individuals may underestimate the magnitude of the health problem and required treatment, thereby worsening their condition. In addition, language barrier further exacerbate the problem, with a large majority of individuals in this population, mostly immigrants, have low comprehension of English, the predominant language used in healthcare facilities. In as much as healthcare services are becoming culturally conscious, there still exists a gap, which further limits accessibility to healthcare.
Health disparities are defined as distinct differences in accessibility to quality and affordable healthcare among different population groups as a result of social and economic differences. In this regard, significant health disparities are often attributed to various factors such as socioeconomic status (poverty and education), lifestyle behaviors, and social environment (economic opportunities).
Socioeconomic status take into consideration aspects such as poverty and education. Approximately one in 4 Latino Americans are poor (LaVeist, 2013). The situation is made worse with the fact that this population also has one of the lowest levels of education attainment in the country. The high poverty rates and low educational levels influence accessibility to healthcare. For instance, since individuals are not able to have any sick days as a result of their economic position, they are likely to ignore their condition, further deteriorating their health. In the same way, low levels of education influence accessibility to information related to healthcare. As such, affected individuals lack adequate information to make wise lifestyle decisions, which would ultimately improve their health.
Health Promotion Prevention
Given the specific health needs of the Latino population as discussed above, the most appropriate approach to health promotion prevention for the Latino population is the primary level. In this regard, prevention of illnesses and disease is the most effective strategy of health promotion among the Hispanic people. As discussed above, the lack of information relating to health needs and poor insurance coverage contribute to health disparities witnessed among individuals from this minority group. Therefore, if health preventive measures are emphasized and implemented, the rate of individuals who succumb to illness will decline significantly. Furthermore, given the high poverty rates among Latino people and the lack of accessibility to healthcare services, preventive healthcare will make a difference towards attaining good health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016). Minority health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/index.htmlLaVeist, T. A. (2013). Minority populations and health: An introduction to health disparities in the United States. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Office of Minority Health (2015). Hispanic/Latino profile. Retrieved from http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=64
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