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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Information and Action: Addressing Health Disparities in Colorado

September 15, 2011

Last week I attended the second annual Latino Health Summit presented by United for Health. The group, which started in March 2010, addresses health disparities among the Latino community.

In 2009, Hispanics/Latinos were more likely to exhibit risk behaviors such as smoking and engaging in binge drinking compared to the total Colorado population, according to the Colorado Office of Health Disparities. They were also more likely to be overweight or obese than the Colorado population as a whole. These disparities are especially important when you consider that Colorado’s Hispanic population, the state’s primary minority group, increased by 41% over the past decade to 1.04 million. Hispanics now make up 16.9 percent of the Colorado population.

The purpose of this year’s conference was to put the “action” into the action plan created after last year’s summit. The six identified priority action areas are unifying a voice for Latino health, Latino health needs, engage and equip today’s leaders, create tomorrow’s leaders, research and evaluate culturally relevant practices and break down the silos to spread success.

Colorado Lt. Gov.  Joe Garcia talked about the commitment to education by the Hickenlooper administration, the importance of early health care education for parents and children and how to begin addressing the health needs of the Hispanic population.

One point the lieutenant governor made that really resonated with me was the need for better health data I think this is true of all of Colorado.

Part of the reason this got my attention is that CHI, on behalf of The Colorado Trust, has just concluded the 2011 Colorado Household Survey (a new name will be unveiled soon by The Colorado Trust), which will help fill the gap in health data. The survey is an effort to more accurately assess the issues surrounding health insurance coverage and to provide information over a multiyear period about health care coverage and access. The findings will be available in the coming months.