AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
During National Hispanic Heritage Month, AHRQ Salutes Promotores de Salud
It was many years ago, but I recall with admiration the promotores de salud in my community. These volunteers—literally, “health promoters”— provided care for migrant families, including my grade school classmates, before they left their San Antonio homes for migratory farm work across the Nation.
The promotores de salud provided a support network adapted from a Mexican tradition of augmenting organized allopathic care delivery. Today, these networks continue to bolster health education, follow-up care, and case management in hundreds of communities nationwide.
Our colleagues in the Indian Health Service call them Community Health Aides. They are also known as community health workers, coaches, peer mentors, peer navigators, community health representatives, lay health advisors, community ambassadors, and outreach educators. In 2018, the World Health Organization recognized community health workers’ essential role in reducing healthcare inequities by publishing a guideline (PDF, 6.3 MB) on health policy and system support for community health worker programs.
I am reminded of the contributions of promotores to health and wellness during National Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual celebration of culture, values, impact, and advancements of the Hispanic community in America from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The theme of this year’s commemoration is “Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America.”
Not long ago, I took part in a video chat with Ileana Ponce-Gonzalez, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of the Community Health Workers Coalition for Migrants and Refugees, a not-for-profit organization in Washington State. During our discussion, I highlighted AHRQ’s resources for promotores de salud, which include tools to enhance communication and engagement with patients and families.
I also highlighted other resources offered by AHRQ on our microsite, Información en español, an online collection of Spanish-language resources. It includes important information for patients about healthcare-associated infections and antibiotic use, as well as AHRQ en español, our YouTube channel with videos to assist patients and their healthcare teams in making informed decisions and improving the quality of healthcare services.
Finally, we are proud to share the Spanish-language version of AHRQ’s popular QuestionBuilder App, which helps patients and caregivers prepare for medical appointments and maximize their visits with providers.
Promotores de salud represent an American ideal: community members offering themselves to help those in their community in need. I am proud of the tradition. It’s a model that shines a light on the best among us: neighbors helping neighbors, consistent with their values and traditions, to improve health and wellness.
With a continued commitment from AHRQ and others in the public and private sectors, we can take inspiration from promotores de salud. We can eliminate the barriers that, for too long, have led to healthcare inequities. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, please follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter as we continue to work toward these goals.
Dr. Valdez is director of AHRQ.