Success and Lessons Learned in Reducing Health Disparities


In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiated Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) to address the Healthy People 2010 goal of eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. Through the REACH program, six minority-serving national organizations (MNOs) were funded to design and implement health equity projects that work toward closing health gaps in racial and ethnic minority groups. The REACH MNOs focused on reducing disparities in health priority areas.

As a REACH MNO, NCLR focused on cervical cancer prevention among Latina women with its Mujer Sana, Familia Fuerte (Healthy Woman, Strong Family) project. Latinas have the second-highest rate of cervical cancer out of all racial and ethnic groups. In addition, Latina women have the second-highest death rate due to cervical cancer out of these same groups. Mujer Sana, Familia Fuerte offered women one-on-one and small-group education sessions on cervical cancer prevention led by promotores de salud (lay health educators). The program was implemented in community-based organizations that serve primarily Spanish-speaking immigrants. Mujer Sana, Familia Fuerte successfully reached thousands of Latinos in Chicago and Washington, DC, through its cervical cancer prevention effects.

Among the successes of this project were the lessons learned, which can help others working with minority and Latino communities. Each MNO wrote success stories to share their experiences and provide guidance to others who are committed to eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health through prevention and management. These accomplishments were compiled in a book to showcase the impact of national organizations working with communities to close health disparities. Although each organization worked with different groups and on different issues, the stories revealed several commonalities, including the importance of relationship building and the support of community leaders in the success of each project.

To learn how NCLR and other national organizations worked to reduce health disparities, take a look at REACH for Health Equity.

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By Marcela Vargas, Project Coordinator, Institute for Hispanic Health, NCLR January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. It is particularly important to us here at NCLR because of the impact it has […]