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National Community Health Workers/Promotores Conference

I attended the 8th Annual National Community Health Workers/Promotores Conference in Phoenix at the end of August, 2005. Promotores are a very interesting and diverse group of (mostly) women.

Promotores are community members who serve as connectors between consumers and health care providers to promote health among groups that have traditionally lacked access to adequate health care. They serve as bridges between ethnic, cultural or geographic communities. The first promotores projects worked with Native American populations, but today many of them work in Hispanic communities.

I gave a talk on “Finding and Evaluating Diabetes Health Information on the Internet in both English and Spanish.” My talk was translated for me by a medical interpreter. Then Jeanneth Quevedo, our office assistant and I checked it over & corrected a few mistakes. Then I had to practice like mad to pronounce words such as capacitacion, desgraciadamente and herramientas correctly. That was one of my biggest challenges! The large PowerPoint file (4.57 Mb) is up on the web at http://nnlm.gov/psr/outreach/presentations/.

There were four tracks that ran through the meeting, Emergency Response, Childhood Obesity, the Golden Years and Women’s Health. Annabelle Nuñez, the Arizona Hispanic Center of Excellence Services Librarian from the University of Arizona Health Sciences Library gave a talk cleverly called, “What’s the Skinny on Childhood Obesity?”

I sat in on some of the other talks, some of which were totally in Spanish. Because I was so familiar with many of the health related words in Spanish, I actually understood so much more than I had expected. It was a rewarding immersion experience! Some talks were translated in both directions. People also had the option of picking up translation head gear to use. English speakers were clearly outnumbered!

Some of the talks were about community group projects that the promotores formed to provide culturally appropriate health information and promote healthy behavior. Wandy Hernandez, the President of the Community Health Worker National Network Association encouraged Promotores to get organized in their communities and join their Network. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm of the group as they are getting organized. People from New York, New Jersey and the Midwest as well as Mexico were present. The conference is put on by the Regional Center for Border Health located in Arizona located in Arizona. Next year’s conference will be in San Diego in August, 2006.

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