Arkansas Human Development Corporation’s (AHDC) Health Outreach Program Initiative began in the early 1990s with AHDC’s Inclusion in the Mid-Western HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Consortium, which was administered by United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Funding was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and allowed the Consortium members to develop culturally appropriate materials for Hispanic and Latin-American families and the medical provider community and disseminate those materials in a way that would stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in the service area.
The goals and services of the Health Outreach Program are:
- To assist Arkansas’ economically disadvantaged individuals and families in learning skills that promote healthy sexual behavior and combat sexually transmitted diseases;
- To provide easily-understood bilingual and culturally appropriate materials;
- To educate and encourage participants living with diabetes, cancer, and hypertension to change their lifestyles, eat right and take their medication as prescribed by their physicians;
- To highlight the importance of prenatal care, reproductive health, and childhood immunizations;
- To provide education about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, using other tobacco products, second-hand smoke, and emerging tobacco products (e-cigarettes);
- To educate minority youth to prevent alcohol consumption.
The Health Outreach Program also provides referrals to tobacco products cessation services; provides translation/interpretation services and minimal transportation services; offers one-on-one and small group health information and education services (classes); It also organizes and facilitates health fairs. Additional services include conducting health and disease prevention assessments (glucose, cholesterol, vision, dental, Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, prostate, mammography, among others); making referrals to clinics, health departments, and other agencies and organizations.
The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) has received grants from the Corporation for National Service (CNS) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1994, to administer and coordinate the AmeriCorps National Farmworker Environmental Education Program. As a member of AFOP, AHDC received two AmeriCorps members each year to work with the Health Outreach Program for one year. The AmeriCorps members are eligible to apply to volunteer for AHDC a second year based upon their individual performance the previous year.
In 1998, AHDC developed the Promotoras de Salud Project (Health Promoters Program). The Promotoras de Salud Project currently has five (5) Health Promoters that provide bilingual health education and prevention information to the Hispanic and Latin-American communities. The major sources of funding for this program include the following:
- Arkansas Blue and You Foundation
- Arkansas Department of Health (ADH)
- Arkansas Department of Human Services
- Arkansas Minority Health Commission
- Bruce Family Foundation
- Levi Strauss Foundation
- The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office
- Unites States Department of Health and Human Services
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency
- UALR Mid-South
Promotoras (Health Promoters) are not nurses or health professionals. They are members of the local community that receive health information, training, and appropriate certifications that allow them to deliver educational information to their families and friends. They work within the community, encouraging the target population to take better care of their health and educate them in utilizing the public health care system. Since they are apart of the target population, they can effectively convey health messages. No formal education or English proficiency is required. The Community Health Promoter/Promotoras de Salud model was developed in Latin America by Paulo Freire and others, who addressed the shortage of funds.
The roles of Health Promoters include, but are not limited to:
- Assists in increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically competent health services
- Conducts needs assessments
- Networks with other Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), government agencies, and other sources for referrals
- Documents accomplishments
- Assists in evaluating the effectiveness of programs and impacts
- Measures changes in the community’s knowledge, attitude, and belief methods
- Conducts community surveys
- Conducts focus groups
- Provides feedback from the community on how to improve the project
Because of the strong collaborative effort of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and AHDC’s Health Outreach Program, there are now ten (10) new medical interpreters available in the community to assist Hispanic patients through the intake process at UAMS. The group received intensive and specialized training to prepare them to provide English/Spanish interpretation/translation services to schools, hospitals, county health departments, and primary care providers.