Countywide : Latino Health Groups Urged to Collaborate


A federal health official on Thursday urged local Latino health groups to form additional collaborative partnerships so they can wield more influence on policy-makers at all levels of government.

During the first Latino Health Conference 2000 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, J. Henry Montes of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said such health providers as community clinics, nursing associations and advocacy groups have considerably more political and legal power to secure scarce government money when they combine resources.

“Ties provide the Latino community with real power,” he said, pointing out that although diverse, the Latino community is bound together by a common language and common family values.


Those bonds, Montes said, help Latino immigrants adjust when they move to the United States, and they could also provide the basis for professional partnerships in which health resources are combined and shared.

“It provides strength in numbers when addressing policy-makers,” he said. He added that service to clients also becomes more efficient and effective when health centers and other providers form partnerships.

A native of Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles, Montes said the perception of the Latino population as one homogenous group is part of the problem facing health providers. Geographic origins and time spent in this country separate people into distinct groups, he said.

Another problem is the lack of good health data.

“For Latinos, health data is at a premium,” Montes said. “Each article (in a professional journal about Latino health) is absorbed like water in the desert.”

He also urged the 250 health providers gathered at the conference to make change an integral part of their organizational goals.

“It would be nice to influence national policy, but most of us probably won’t do that,” he said. “But it is just as important to be influential where you are now.”