Racial/Ethnic & Indigenous/Immigrant Populations


Populations belonging to minority ethnicities and immigrants often face social exclusion, discrimination, and higher levels of poverty and violence, all of which can lead to poorer health outcomes than other population groups and contribute to health inequities. Health inequities in maternal and child health, sexual health, malnutrition, and other areas call attention to the need to create policy changes to ensure that the region’s populations that are falling behind can improve their living conditions, access good quality healthcare, and enjoy well-being.


Current Priority Area for At-Risk Populations

In 2018, HENA’s leadership identified immigrant populations, with migratory crises occurring at a rapid rate, as an immediate need for policy change efforts.


Immigrant Health Focus

Several factors in the Americas contribute to immigrant health. These include: socioeconomic status; limited English proficiency; federal, state, local policies on access to health care and other services (e.g., childcare, education); ability to obtain health insurance; neighborhood conditions; and more.

HENA promotes policies that improve immigrant health and conducts research on the factors that contribute to health inequalities found among immigrant populations. According to the Migration Policy Institute, reform to improve immigrant health is needed in at least three areas:

  1. Health insurance. For example, including outreach and education to immigrant communities about health insurance options
  2. Health care access. For example, by supporting safety-net providers (community health centers)
  3. Reducing language barriers. For example, by establishing policies that reimburse health care providers for language services.

HENA supports advocacy and action of its members and their organizations as well as other groups working in the area of immigrant health. It works to enhance the exchange of information among health innovators, policymakers, researchers and civil society advocates to advance the future of health equity and equality in the Americas.


 UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

Of its 17 goals for sustainable development, six of the goals of the UN 2030 agenda work toward this HENA policy focus area to improve health and well-being among at-risk populations:

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries


Recommendations from the Commission of PAHO on Health Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas:

Nearly all of the 12 recommendations in this report released from PAHO in September 2018 have implications for work needed to improve health and well-being of at-risk populations. Recommendations include:

  • Recommendation 1: Achieving equity in political, social, cultural, and economic structures
  • Recommendation 2: Protecting the natural environment, mitigating climate change, and respecting relationships to land
  • Recommendation 3: Reversing the health equity impacts of ongoing colonialism and structural racism
  • Recommendation 4: Equity from the start: Early life and education
  • Recommendation 5: Decent work
  • Recommendation 6: Dignified life at older ages
  • Recommendation 7: Income and social protection
  • Recommendation 8: Reducing violence for health equity
  • Recommendation 9: Improving environment and housing conditions
  • Recommendation 10: Equitable health systems
  • Recommendation 11: Governance arrangements for health equity
  • Recommendation 12: Fulfilling and protecting human rights


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Click here for Current Campaigns Promoting Racial/Ethnic, Indigenous, and Immigrant Populations




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