Chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity are growing public health concerns across the United States, especially in the Latino community of the San Joaquin Valley where data shows significant disparities.
And to address those health issues affecting Latinos, two Valley counties – Merced and Madera -received funding from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to address chronic disease and reduce health disparities within the Latino community in each of those two counties.
The funding comes through a five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) award received by CDPH from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
REACH is a national program administered by the CDC to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities.
Through REACH, recipients plan and carry out local, culturally appropriate programs to address a wide range of health issues among African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.
According to CDC, the state’s department of public health will lead the California Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (CalREACH) in partnership with two San Joaquin Valley coalitions and Local Health Departments in Madera and Merced counties.
CalREACH will apply and support evidence-based policy, systems, and environmental change strategies in the San Joaquin Valley to improve nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding continuity of care and community supports, and community-clinical linkages.
“The award from CDPH will go a long way in addressing health disparities by leveraging local partnerships to support farmers markets, increase walking and bicycling safety around schools, and link people with chronic diseases to health care,” said Stephanie Nathan, assistant director for the Madera County Department of Public Health.
Each county received $230,000 annually to implement targeted and culturally relevant strategies aimed at improving those goals.
Madera and Merced Public Health Departments will work closely with established coalitions and local partners such as local federally qualified health centers, hospitals, First 5, WIC, and local community-based organizations to implement REACH strategies.
“This funding will allow Merced County to broaden local interventions for chronic disease issues and strengthen public health approaches across county borders by working with Madera County,” said Rebecca Nanyonjo-Kemp, director for the Merced County Department of Public Health. “Overall, it’s a positive for the Central Valley which experiences disproportionate rates of chronic diseases.”
According to CDC, In 2015-2016, Hispanic (47 percent) and non-Hispanic black (46.8 percent) adults had a higher prevalence of obesity than non-Hispanic white adults (37.9 percent). In 2011-2014, the prevalence of diabetes was 18.0 percent in non-Hispanic black adults, 16.8 percent in Hispanic adults, and 9.6% in non-Hispanic white adults.
Here in the San Joaquin Valley, recent data (2016) estimates that 83.9 percent and 76 percent of Latino adults in Madera and Merced, respectively, are considered overweight or obese and the percentage of Latinos diagnosed with diabetes is higher in the San Joaquin Valley than across California. Overall, the cost of chronic conditions among Latinos in Madera and Merced counties is estimated at $156.7 million.