A culture of health means equitable access to resources for healthy lives



We believe in providing people with equitable access to quality care and the resources that are necessary for healthy lives. That is how we build a culture of health, addressing the social determinants of health so our communities can thrive.

Our partners in the UnidosUS Affiliate Network that focus on quality housing and education, financial and economic support, health care, and mental health support are improving the quality of life in communities across the country, allowing people to live their healthiest life possible. In our latest video, “Unidos for a Culture of Health,” we highlight some of these Affiliates.

By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

In 2015, UnidosUS partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to promote a Culture of Health framework, because we believe that everyone should have an opportunity to be healthy no matter where we live, no matter where we were born, and no matter how much we earn. With COVID-19 ravaging our most vulnerable communities, we are seeing now more than ever how the environments of where we live greatly affect the health and well-being of individuals. Millions of people in the United States live in substandard or overcrowded housing which deepens the gaps and inequities we are experiencing in the current crisis.

As a civil rights organization, we are focused on strengthening and improving the health, equity and well-being of our community, tackling the social determinants of health; that is, the conditions that shape our health: where we live, learn, work, play, and pray, many of which have been defined by the structural inequities in our society, affecting Black and Latino communities disproportionately, which “are often poor, racially and socially isolated,” according to a UnidosUS 2016 research study.

As we explained in this blog post, “Latinos often face significant barriers to accessing the opportunities they need to be healthy. However, there is good news: community-based organizations are working to improve the health of the Latino communities they serve by strategically addressing social determinants of health, such as the quality and affordability of our homes, the safety of our neighborhoods, and our children’s access to a good education.”

In our latest video, “Unidos for a Culture of Health,” we introduce our vision for a Culture of Health and highlight Affiliates throughout the country working on issues of housing, financial empowerment, health, and education, and how it is all connected to give our most vulnerable communities the chance to live their best lives.

Nikki Ramirez, Director of Supportive Housing Services at Chicanos Por La Causa, speaks during  the first UnidosUS Health and Housing Roundtable, hosted in Washington, DC, at the end of October, 2019.

THE WORK IN TODAY’S REALITIES

The release of this video comes a time when our country is not only facing a health crisis, but also an economic one. We are also seeing the righteous protests throughout the country sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía has called for racism to be declared a health public crisis. There is a broken system and structural inequities especially affecting Black and Latino communities, a reality that has clearly come out to surface in this pandemic.

UnidosUS has long worked in tackling these issues through our housing, health, education, and workforce development programs. The time has come now to strengthen this work and see it through a Culture of Health lens. This video shows the partnerships with our Affiliate Network towards creating that culture of health with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

But more resources are needed, and Murguía made a statement this month demanding that governments invest in the basic needs of our community: “In order for resources to be brought back to communities, governments at all levels must divest from harmful institutions such as the prison industrial complex, surveillance, and policing. We call on governments to instead invest these funds in basic needs like quality housing and education, financial and economic support, environmental and climate justice, health care for all, and mental health support.”

UnidosUS has brought forth a number of solutions to address the systemic inequities that our communities encounter. There is also work left to be done to make sure our country can deal with the coronavirus pandemic. One important step would be swift Senate passage of the HEROES Act. Government relief must be inclusive of all who are being affected by the pandemic in this country, no matter where they were born or where they live. For more information on the HEROES Act, you can visit this page.

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