On August 1, over one hundred and fifty members of the local Asian community met with representatives from federal, state and local government offices to discuss Minnesota Asian Health Disparities and to share stories and testimony’s on a broad range of health issues impacting Minnesota’s Asian and Pacific Islander community.
The goal was to not only voice opinions but to try to find potential solutions to a problem that has not only faced the Asian community but all first generation immigrants coming to the U.S. in the last century. According to a recent report Asian Americans have the Highest Limited English Proficiency rates in the Twin Cities area.
One in five Asians living in Minnesota lives in poverty. The Hmong community has the lowest per capita income of just over $7,000. There is a defiant need for interpreters who not only understand the language but also understand Eastern health and healing beliefs. Many times there are culturally different healing beliefs that are preferred at times to the western medicine that is offered.
Unfortunately the Asian community experiences some of the highest levels of dissatisfaction with health care providers. This is a problem both nationally and locally. According to reports Asians are less likely to feel that the doctor they are seeing understands what they believe and value and do not necessarily have confidence in the doctor. The Asians also feel that they should be more involved in the decisions that are made on their behalf than they are.
One of the possible solutions discussed was to improve the data collection process to ensure that what is collected is ethnic-specific. Also look further into Eastern health, healing and treatment options. This can be done by further understanding natural and alternative medicine that has been shown to be very effective within the community and to embrace these cultural beliefs.
Not all Western medical beliefs are preferred by the Asian community many prefer natural healing methods using herbs and acupuncture as alternative to western practices.
An interpreter service is the highest on the agenda. This really seems to be the key to success with any program that is developed. Qualified individuals that understand the wants and needs of the Asian community are needed.