Immigrant health on-line and on-screen in Minnesota


Where does a daughter go for information about breast cancer that her Somali-speaking mother can understand? Where does a physician refer her Hmong-speaking client for information on flu shots and why they are important? One place to find the answers is ECHO, the multi-lingual Emergency, Community Health, and Outreach organization. 

Coverage of issues of race and race relations, cultural diversity and immigrant health issues is funded in part by a grant from the F.R. Bigelow Foundation.

ECHO Executive Director Lillian McDonald observes that “Our work is becoming more branded in our ethnic communities as a trustworthy source for health, safety, emergency and civic engagement information” McDonald adds that “ECHO partnerships help cut the costs of creating common content for vulnerable populations.”  The challenge now is for service providers that hope to reach communities of users with limited English skills to know and tap into the resources of ECHO.

ECHO promotes collaboration among a host of health and safety experts and bilingual community leaders to create high quality programming for TV and radio broadcast, phone, print, web, DVD and relay distribution.  October’s breast cancer awareness campaign is just one of scores of programs and projects supported by ECHO to ensure that over a half million Minnesotans with limited English-speaking skills have access to the information they need to make informed decisions affecting their well-being. 


Getting involved

Attend Immigration Matters at the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway North in St. Paul.  RSVP on line or call 651 789 4337. Advance registration is required.  Seating is limited, available on a first-come, first-served basis.

ECHO is located at  25 Charles Avenue (Association of Minnesota Counties building), St. Paul, MN  55103. Learn more about the services and resources of ECHO on their website, and take a look at volunteer opportunities.

One opportunity to get connected with ECHO is set for Tuesday, November 16, when ECHO is sponsoring “Immigration Matters,” a free panel discussion and recognition breakfast featuring  immigration attorney Howard S. Myers, III,  Wilder Foundation SE Asian program director Tony Yang,  and state demographer Tom Gillaspy.

ECHO dates from 2004 when local and state public health and safety agencies joined forces to address the health, safety and emergency information needs of an expanding number of Minnesotans with limited English-speaking experience.  A dozen bilingual community leaders became ECHO’s first team of community spokespeople.

 Early on ECHO launched ECHO TV, the first series in the country dedicated to presenting health, safety, and emergency readiness programs in multiple languages.  It forged a partnership that endures and continues to produce multi-language materials on a wide range of topics. Full seasons of ECHO TV – up to 12 programs in seven languages each season (English, Hmong, Khmer, Lao, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese) are now available on DVD.  Individual topics may also be available in multiple languages on single DVDs which are  available without charge to organizations and individuals that meet needs requirements.

In short order ECHO Web launched as an online library of multi-language, multi-media resources featuring information on over 70 related topics. ECHO Web provides an online library of health, safety, emergency preparedness and civic engagement resources.  Audio, video and print materials are supported with  links to help users connect with resources and new information added every month.  ECHO Web provides a virtual hub for public officials, outreach workers and community members seeking multi-language health, safety, emergency and civic engagement education. There’s also an emergency situation e-mail list on ECHO Web.

Another option, ECHO Phone, provides the first statewide toll-free recorded information service through updated multi-language seasonal health and safety tips.