U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Hispanic Health Summit: Top 8 Takeaways

Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a reminder to celebrate the ongoing achievements of the Hispanic community while renewing our commitment toward equity — especially when it comes to health. According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, 28.1% of Hispanic or Latino adults ages 18 to 64 do not have health insurance coverage and 16.1% of Hispanic or Latino adults ages 18 and older are reported to have poor health.

This year, Vanguard Communications attended the 2023 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Hispanic Health Summit, “Avanzando Nuestra Salud” (Advancing Our Health). The summit had a variety of guest speakers that participated in panels to discuss key aspects to improve the health of the Latinx community, including HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Senior Advisor to the President Tom Perez, and SAMHSA Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.

Here are some top takeaways from the summit:

  1. To elevate the voices of the Latinx community it’s important to stay up to date on news and issues. Whether it’s time-sensitive information or relevant news, knowing what topics surround the Latinx community is crucial to developing and informing appropriate resources, tools and messages.
  2. To remove barriers, it’s important to acknowledge and address stigmas. Stigmas prevent communities from seeking help, support and even treatment. Bringing awareness to stigmas can lead to increased understanding of obstacles faced by Latinx communities that can impact changes in health care or policies.
  3. Building trust and connections with Latinx communities is essential for advancing equity. Due to stigmas and biases, communities lack trust and face hardships when seeking help. To advance equity it’s crucial to create spaces and channels where communities feel welcome and safe to share their experiences or hinderances in seeking support.
  4. Reaching Latinx youth is imperative for generational change. Due to language barriers, Latinx communities rely heavily on youth to interpret and relay information that is not translated or developed in Spanish. Reaching and including Latinx youth increases the chances of resources and information reaching the intended audience.
  5. We must be committed to relaying information and fighting disinformation and misinformation. As reputable outlets do not always translate information in Spanish, Latinx communities rely heavily on social media for information. However, disinformation and misinformation can be widespread on social media, making it difficult to track down truthful facts and information. This can be particularly harmful when it comes to health-related messaging or advice.
  6. Sharing personal experiences inspires others to do the same. Sharing stories provides an opportunity to gain insight, historical context and facts. It’s crucial to increasing understanding and spreading awareness, as storytelling makes communities feel less alone and people feel seen.
  7. We must be advocates when resources are lacking. When information is not accessible, communities miss out on potentially life-threatening or time-sensitive information. By being advocates when there is no Spanish-language interpretation available, we help inform communities.
  8. Consistency matters — we must be willing to continuously support Latinx communities. In order to contribute to inclusion and equity we must face challenges head on, when no one else is an advocate.

Questions to consider:

  1. Are English resources available in Spanish?
  2. Is health information accessible to Latinx communities, and on what platforms or in what spaces?
  3. Has cultural competency been considered? Has the information been translated?

No matter your company’s mission or the industry you are in, it’s important to continue to bring awareness to different points of view. Elevating Latinx voices throughout the year is essential and may look different to everyone, but it’s vital in the path toward equity and inclusion for all.