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The Health of Latino Communities in the South: Challenges and Opportunities

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Publication Date: January 2004

Publisher(s): National Council of La Raza

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Health (Health services for minorities)

Keywords: Public health services; Acculturation; Hispanic population; Health insurance

Type: Report


This report provides a first-ever look at the health care needs, challenges, and realities of newly emerging Latino communities in the southern U.S. Based on focus group research and primary interviews with health care providers in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, the study also includes a literature review and highlights of a regional meeting with key stakeholders from throughout the South. Findings show that Latinos in the South are reluctant to use public health care programs and facilities due to barriers such as lack of information about available services, lack of insurance, insufficient numbers of bilingual, bicultural personnel, and disparate treatment.

The significant increase in the U.S. Hispanic population, particularly in nontraditional regions of the country, such as the South, has not necessarily been accompanied by proportional increases in information about Latinos, their characteristics, and their needs. To address the knowledge gap about this diverse population and focus attention on the health care challenges that the Hispanic community in the South faces, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Minority Health (OMH) partnered to create the "Health in Emerging Latino Communities" (HELC) project to assess, for the first time, the health care needs, wishes, and realities of newly emerging Latino communities in the South. The following offers a brief snapshot of relevant demographic data, a summary of the project, key findings, and NCLR conclusions.