Hispanic Health: Renewed Collaboration

Article excerpt

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the May 5, 1862, Battle of Puebla, in which a band of Mexican patriots defeated a formidable French army force twice its size. Over the past 15 years, Cinco de Mayo has taken on a greater significance as a day to celebrate and honor the heritage, cultural pride, and unity of Hispanic-Americans.

This year, Cinco de Mayo marked a celebration of another kind: a renewed collaboration between the Food and Drug Administration and the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH), the oldest and largest network of U.S. health and human service providers for Hispanic consumers. FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., and Jane L. Delgado, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of the Alliance, chose the day to sign a letter of commitment to work together to help Hispanic communities across the nation achieve good health.

"The FDA is committed to making sure that consumers have the latest and best information to make decisions about their health," McClellan said. "We are going to redouble efforts to make sure that happens in the Hispanic community."

"For almost 100 years, the FDA has protected the public's health," added Delgado. "When we can use a food label to make decisions about nutrition, have access to safe and effective vaccines, when women can safely use mammography and Pap smears to obtain reliable information about cancer risks--that is because the FDA is doing its job to protect the public's health. Today, by renewing a focus on outreach to Hispanic health consumers, the FDA is again demonstrating its leadership and commitment to building a healthier future for all."

To help empower members of the growing Hispanic population to take charge of their health, the FDA is expanding consumer access to Spanish-language health information and initiating joint opportunities for community outreach with the Alliance.

The Spanish publications currently offered by the FDA cover a broad range of topics, including diabetes, arthritis treatments, using medicine safely, eating for a healthy heart, keeping food safe, and vaccinating children to protect them from serious diseases. Many of these publications are distributed to Hispanic consumers by the FDA's public affairs specialists, a team of more than 40 health educators around the country. These specialists speak at conferences, participate in health fairs, develop community education programs, work with the Hispanic media, and conduct other outreach activities to the Hispanic community.

Recent outreach activities have included presenting healthy cooking demonstrations to Hispanic childcare providers in New York City and sharing information on diabetes, breast cancer and nutrition at Hispanic Women's Health Day in Dallas. In North Carolina, home of one of the fastest-growing Hispanic communities in the country, FDA educators shared literature on food and drug safety with consumers at La Fiesta del Pueblo, a two-day event in Chapel Hill celebrating Latino culture.

Another means of delivering information is through the newly launched Su Familia, a toll-free National Hispanic Family Health Helpline developed and operated by the Alliance. …