New Data Confirm Health Inequities For Utah Hispanics, Latinos

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A new Utah Department of Health (UDOH) report finds the state's Hispanic/Latino population is battling some unique health problems. Most concerning to health leaders are the groups' poor access to health care, low rates of health insurance coverage, and a high adolescent/teen birth rate.

• 1 in 3 Hispanics/Latinos in Utah has no health insurance (compared with 1 in 9 Utahns overall)

• 1 in 5 Hispanics/Latinos in Utah do not have a usual place of medical care (compared with 1 in 10 in the general population).

• 1 in 3 Hispanics/Latinas in Utah don't get adequate prenatal care (in comparison with 1 in 5 women in the general population).

• 6.6 percent of Utah Hispanic/Latino adolescents give birth (compared to just 1.8 percent in the general population).

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The new report shows Hispanic/Latinos are also plagued by high rates of gestational diabetes, adult type II diabetes, low birth weight babies, unplanned pregnancies, inadequate vegetable consumption, and lack of physical activity.

On the other hand, Utah Hispanics/Latinos have lower death rates from heart disease and cancer than the general population.

"This information helps all health workers plan projects better and focus on the areas with the biggest disparities," said Dulce A. Diez with the UDOH Center for Multicultural Health (CMH).

"But eliminating health inequities is a long and complex process," added Diez. "There are so many variables to address, including cultural, linguistic, economic, political and social."

The UDOH is only one piece of the puzzle. Officials say it will take intense collaboration among a host of public and private agencies and the community to address ethnic disparities and bring health levels of minorities on par with whites in Utah.

Sylvia Garcia Rickard, of the Ethnic Health Advisory Committee, praised the report. "I think this is an incredible tool to help us uncover our most urgent community needs," she said.

The report is third in a series from CMH on the health of racial and ethnic minorities in Utah. It is an easy-to-read, 4-page document accompanied by a 2-page list of community health resources.

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