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April 4, 2007

Una fiesta for Latinas and health

April 14 event focuses on screenings, education, patient resources

ANN ARBOR, MI – As the fastest growing minority population, Latinos make up nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population. However, studies show that Latina women suffer from higher rates of diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and often face barriers to quality health care. In an effort to reduce these health disparities, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is sponsoring a “health fiesta” in Washtenaw County.

Dia de la Mujer Latina LogoDía de la Mujer Latina is a one-day, interactive health fair targeted to Latina women and their families. The annual event features free screenings, information booths and resources that address significant health issues in the Latino community. The health fair takes place from 1-5 p.m. April 14 in the Morris Lawrence Building of Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

“We know that not just here in Washtenaw County, but nationwide, there is a growing Latino population that is facing challenges accessing health care, the language barrier being one of these challenges,” says Natasha Blakeney Wilson, health educator and minority outreach coordinator for the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We thought it was important to reach out and let them people know what community and health care resources are available to them, to begin knocking down some of these barriers.”

Participants are eligible for free blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, diabetes risk assessment and nutritional counseling, as well as information on domestic violence, prenatal care and emergency preparedness. The event will also include vision exams, chair massages and educational videos in Spanish on breast cancer, cervical cancer and colorectal cancer. The focus is on women, but the event is for the entire family. Information on prostate cancer will be featured, as well as activities for children, including facepainting.

The concept for Día de la Mujer Latina was launched in 1997 in Atlanta, Ga., in an effort to reduce health disparities among the Latino population. In the last four years, the program has been promoted nationwide and is now being duplicated in more than 18 cities across the United States and in Puerto Rico. This is the second year that U-M has participated.

The Washtenaw County event has been a collaborative planning effort with the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, UMHS Community Health Services, U-M Health System Program for Multicultural Health, the UMHS Program for Women’s Health, the U-M Minority Health Research Program, the Latin American and the Native American Medical Association, and M-CARE, along with community partners including American Cancer Society, Latinos Unidos Inc. and the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. For more information, contact Natasha Blakeney Wilson at 734-998-7073 or Spanish-speaking callers may call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345.

Dia de la Mujer Latina Health Fiesta
Time: 1-5 p.m.
Date: Saturday, April 14
Location: Morris Lawrence Building of Washtenaw Community College, 4800 E Huron River Dr.
Information: 734-998-7073

Written by: Marissa Mann


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