Thanks for Speaking Up to Improve Healthcare for Latinos!

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Over 60 members of Salud America! endorsed our public comment to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in their request for feedback on as part of its draft Strategic Plan for 2022-2026.

The draft was open for comment from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7, 2021.

At Salud America!, we believe that improving healthcare by making it more accessible and culturally tailored for Latinos and other people of color will help build health equity.

We believe this is possible through increasing diversity among research leaders and clinical trial participants, eliminating implicit bias in the doctor’s office, and hiring healthcare workers who can provide culturally relevant patient care.

That’s why we submitted a comment from our leader, Dr. Amelie Ramirez.

Dr. Amelie Ramirez’s Comment to Improve Healthcare for Latinos

Dr. Amelie Ramirez, Director of Salud America! and of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio, submitted the following comment to HHS on how the department can use their strategic plan to improve Latino healthcare.

We can strengthen social wellbeing and health equity by advocating for better healthcare for Latinos and other people of color. Increasing racial equity and diversity in healthcare will help us achieve true health equity, particularly for marginalized groups like Latinos, who suffer from disproportionate health issues due to historic systemic racism, discrimination, and implicit bias in the healthcare system.

We must take steps to address the large racial/ethnic gap in clinical trials and research. Despite making up 18.5% of the U.S. population, Latinos make up less than 10% of participants in federal cancer and drug studies. With the use of culturally tailored digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships, we can reach marginalized communities that are often left out of trials and research. Interpersonal training on implicit bias and establishing a support system in instances of bias and racism will help people of color feel more comfortable going to the doctor, receiving treatment, and participating in clinical trials. Additionally, hiring more healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds who can connect to patients requires increasing diversity in medical schools. This can be addressed through mentorship programs, internships, and fellowships that HHS funds with under-resourced communities, increased financial aid for students of color seeking higher education, and organizations that support students of color once in medical school.

What Happens Next in Latino Healthcare?

Now that the comment submission period has ended, HHS will review comments and incorporate feedback into future planning and funding.

As the strategic plan spans over the next four years, the department will likely incorporate some of the feedback in short term and require more planning for long-term goals.

In the meantime, Ramirez is continuing to lead efforts to engage more Latinos in clinical trials.

She is leading a program to create Latino-focused recruitment strategies and systems for cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials. This work is supported by a grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

“Our new project will allow us to use culturally relevant digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships to promote health equity and advance clinical trials for cancer treatment and Alzheimer’s disease among Latinos,” she said.

Clinical trials can help researchers learn more to help slow, manage, and treat Alzheimer’s and cancer for current and future family members.

Unfortunately, Latinos are underrepresented in clinical trials. Without diversity, it’s harder for researchers to ensure new treatments work for specific populations.

Volunteer now for amazing clinical trials to slow dementia at the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Health San Antonio!

Volunteer now for amazing clinical trials to slow cancer at the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio!

To find out more about clinical trials in South Texas, call 210-567-8229 (English) or 210-450-8073 (Spanish) regarding Alzheimer’s and 210-450-1000 regarding cancer.

LEARN MORE ABOUT CLINICAL TRIALS!

By The Numbers By The Numbers

25.1

percent

of Latinos remain without health insurance coverage

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