The Texas Latino Health Summit 2002 — "Reducing Latino Health Disparities: Creating a Blueprint to Improved Health" — begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, in the School of Nursing auditorium at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). The meeting continues through Aug. 15. About 100 Texas health care leaders, educators and policy makers are expected to attend the summit. Partly underwritten by the Texas Department of Health's Office of Minority Health and Office of Border Health, the summit is presented by the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in partnership with several key organizations and institutions.
Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, will welcome the assembled delegation. "The presence of these thoughtful leaders and the decisions they will make will benefit our Latino population for years to come," Dr. Cigarroa, a noted pediatric transplant surgeon, said. "The demographics of South Texas are changing rapidly. I am most pleased that this initial summit will be held in San Antonio and at the Health Science Center."
"We are taking a step in the right direction by linking health professionals and institutions with community leaders and organizations," said Vincent Ramos, Ph.D., Texas LULAC executive director. "Probably the biggest obstacle institutions face is effectively creating a bridge to the community. This is an effort to do that."
A media briefing at 9 a.m. Wednesday in room 1.202 of the School of Nursing building will feature President Cigarroa; Texas Commissioner of Health Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H.; Dr. Ramos; and Adela Valdez, M.D. Dr. Valdez is chair of the Texas Health Disparities Task Force and regional assistant dean, Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center, of which UTHSCSA operates two divisions.
Officials plan to hold another Latino Health Summit annually or biannually. Information from the first summit will be used to form a coalition of experts and community organizations with the purpose of developing a statewide action plan to improve Latino health.
Summit goals include:
- Capturing the diversity of Latinos' needs around the state.
- Encouraging health professionals from Texas communities to assess needs.
- Encouraging early participation in planning.
"The community should be at the table at the critical juncture when decisions are being made, when resources are allocated and when strategies are formed and implemented," Dr. Ramos said. "There is an advantage to having community organizations involved."