Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hispanic Heritage Month: Highlighting two organizations committed to oral health

As part of our commitment to meeting the different oral health needs for different populations, DentaQuest learns about cultural heritage through observances like Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs through Oct. 15. It is a month-long tribute to Hispanic Americans who have so richly contributed to our society, and to the cultures, languages, and traditions passed down by their ancestors. DentaQuest is committed to improving health equity and advancing solutions that meet the needs of the many different people our plans and services touch, in part by supporting the efforts of local organizations.

While the contributions of our Oral Health 2020 network partners are as diverse as the communities and the perspectives they represent, and impactful in so many important ways, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge two of our grantees who are working in this way to improve the public’s perception of oral health, and bringing the voice of Hispanic and Latino* communities to the table.

We know that the only way to develop targeted solutions and ultimately achieve better oral health for all is to engage those people who are most impacted. One of the goals of Oral Health 2020 is to improve the public’s perception of the value of oral health. We want everyone, not just dentists and hygienists, to recognize and understand the importance of the health of the mouth to the health of the rest of the body. With this important understanding, we will continue to mobilize communities across the country to rally together to advocate for better oral health.

In California, Vision y Compromiso is committed to improving community well-being by supporting promotores (liaisons between their communities and health and social service providers) and community health workers. Across 24 counties from Southern California to the Greater Bay Area, Vision y Compromiso’s network of promotores and community health workers is serving as a bridge for both native-born and immigrant people, and leveraging their shared language, ethnicity, culture, and experiences to reduce barriers to care and education. 

For example, together with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Vision y Compromiso is spreading a campaign to educate individuals and families in the state on the health coverage available to anyone in the state, regardless of income or immigration status.  In just under two weeks, Vision y Compromiso will be bringing together these important stakeholders at their annual conference in Ontario, CA.

Also working on the West Coast is Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC). LCHC is one of the leading voices for Latino health in California, with a focus on initiating and advancing policies that help build healthy communities. With their ongoing work to address disparities in oral health, LCHC is focusing efforts on ensuring that affordable dental care is accessible to all Californians. 

Like Vision y Compromiso, LCHS is also working with promotores, training them to be both advocates and messengers for oral health and its social influences in Latino communities. LCHC is committed to elevating the voices of those in their communities to be heard by decision- and policymakers, in order to improve oral health at a systemic level. A recent initiative champions efforts that reduce access to sugar-sweetened beverages, which not only impact oral health, but also contribute to the disproportionately high incidence of diabetes in both adults and children in Latino communities.

We are so proud to support these and so many other amazing organizations that are working to improve the oral health of all. Please visit their websites to learn more:

*While “Hispanic” and “Latino” are often used and understood interchangeably, “Hispanic” focuses on Spanish-speaking origin, while “Latino” refers to people of Latin American origin.