Diabetes Amongst Latino Population in the US
In the United States, approximately 15% of the population is made up of Latinos (Cobas et al., 2015). This population comprises of people who were within and without the borders of the United States; it is heterogeneous in the sense that they have varied behavioral, cultural, and social attitudes that are likely to affect their health. According to Casey et al. (2014 pp.395), there is a high rate of diabetes in Latino adults of 20 years and above as compared to their non-Hispanic white Americans. Nevertheless, this difference is determined when all Latinos are examined as a single subgroup. It is important to note that diabetes ranks high among Latinos of Mexican and Puerto Rican origin (397).
There are various studies that have been carried out on diabetes among different ethnic groups in the United States. Those that are interested in disparities in health, especially among the Latinos, have used various approaches, for example by evaluating the evidence of diabetes in the Latino community, use of records from national registry as far as mortality rates among the Latinos and the health records from various hospitals, as well as the American population in general as a standard measure of making comparison. According to Liao et al. (2016 pp.8), the studies have examined the Latino’s demographic structure as far as their population in the U.S is concerned. Additionally, they have attempted to relate their education levels, income, and age to the persistent trends of mortality and health resulting from diabetes.
Most studies have observed that the best way to explain the disparities in the Latino population on matters diabetes include inequalities in health status, inconsistencies in death records, reverse selection, social marginality, transnational migration as well as their ability to adapt to environmental conditions in the U.S. Many frameworks are used including the famous social inequality and public health utility approach (11). This paper, therefore, examines how a proper dedication in cultural competency can improve diabetes care in socially disadvantaged populations such as the Latinos in the United States, whether documented or undocumented.
The Latino Population, their specific features and how it influences their access to health care
According to Dviglus et al. (2017), it is the economic and social status of a population that influences its health as well as how it is accessed. The Latinos have generally lower socioeconomic status as compared to non-Hispanic Americans. They are exposed to so many barriers that hinder them to access quality healthcare. This low socioeconomic status is caused by poor educational attainment, low family income, unfavorable occupational characteristics, and insufficient ability to accumulate assets. Ricardo (2015) observes that by the year 2014, approximately 23% of Latinos were living in poverty as compared to the non-Hispanic whites who were only 7%, 52% Latino adults had only acquired a high school diploma as compared to white Americans with 88%. It is also important to note that Latinos are less likely to be employed in executive positions at work.
These features make it difficult for Latino to access healthcare on time. They are not able to get an insurance cover because of the low income and lack of relevant information because of the language barrier (Becerra et al., 2015 pp.139). Insufficient education provides a challenge to them as they try to navigate the complicated delivery system of healthcare. They are not even able to initiate a conversation with the health care providers or clearly understand the instructions given. Their status as immigrants, acculturation degree, and language barrier interfere with their access to healthcare as well as insurance cover (145).
The available employment opportunities for the just-arrived undocumented Latinos, those who cannot express themselves fluently in English, are likely not to offer insurance coverage or other health insurance benefits. However, recent legislation in the Congress has made it possible for noncitizens or recent immigrants to access some health benefits through programs of public health insurance (Hall et al., 2016 pp.485). Furthermore, for the population to improve its access to health care as far as diabetes prevalence is concerned, there must be community interventions for a healthier lifestyle.
Reformed approaches to Latino population to curb the prevalence of diabetes
According to Glazier (2006), many Latinos in the rural areas experience problems in as far as healthcare access is concerned. They are the ones that suffer from issues of cultural and language barriers, low income, and lack of insurance coverage, as well as effects of immigrant status. It is also important to note that the urban Latinos also face these problems. In rural areas, there are still systemic problems like inadequate physicians as well as other practitioners in health care. There are few or no interpreters specifically for making the information accessible or understandable to Latinos who cannot understand English. This poses a lot of challenges to diabetic patients leading to its prevalence. Inadequate healthcare professionals and physicians are likely to influence the existing doctor to decline to take another diabetic patient, especially those who require an interpreter to understand (Jeffreys, 2015).
The deficit of bilingual health providers in the Latino community put a lot of strain on the healthcare system. Consequently, they became of seeking professional healthcare, thus, increased cases of diabetes among the Latinos. According to Calo et al. (2015 pp.570), various studies on diabetes in this community have confirmed that the issues of language barrier and poverty have a negative effect on the access and use of healthcare services. As a solution to this problem, many interpreters have been employed in this community to make the information clearer and to bridge the gap between the community or individual and the healthcare system.
The best approach is that healthcare practitioners should offer services that are linguistically and culturally friendly. The Latinos should be involved in the programs and strategies that are meant to reduce the prevalence of diabetes among them, for example, as family or community healthcare providers, interpreters, community organizers, community workers, volunteers and so forth (Hall, 2016). This will help create the awareness of diabetes prevalence, thus, working towards reducing it. When they are involved, they will be committed to curbing the menace with a belief that they are saving one of their own. This is because the Latino culture is more personal and communal. Their involvement is a right step in the intended direction.
Additionally, local providers have upped their game to meet the need of diabetic Latino patients. The Federal and the States’ governments should add language assistants as stipulated in the Medicaid service. The federal government should also allocate more funds to interpreter services. More physicians and healthcare professionals, including increasing the number of community health centers in the Latino population should be boosted by the administration to enhance accessibility and use of healthcare services.
Cultural competence as a solution and response from Latinos
Over three decades now, there have been various studies that have generated evidence from both anthropology and sociology fields stating that the aspect of Latino culture is important as far as access and use of healthcare services are concerned. This culture is still not understood, in its entirety, today (Betancourt, 2014). This failure of acknowledging Latino culture has been a precursor for the existing disparities in healthcare delivery with Latinos being the majority of the victims. The ability of the United States to deliver better health care to this population is because of the lack of attention to Latino culture.
According to Paris et al. (2016 pp.140), to provide a culturally competent healthcare service, the Latino culture ought to be integrated into the larger healthcare system. It is prudent that healthcare system becomes cognizant of the fact that people always embrace something that they feel is somehow similar to theirs. For example, the Latino diversity must be incorporated. The population is made up people of various origins like Caribbean, South and Central America, and Mexico among others. They possess different lifestyles, language, dialect, customs, and beliefs. Their families are more cohesive and resilient, thus, serving as members’ safety nets. Additionally, their folk medicine is still revered and easily accessible.
Therefore, when physicians and healthcare providers fail to understand this culture and their realities, it is not possible to effectively and successfully curb the prevalence of diabetes among the Latinos (Lie et al., 2010). They hold their culture so dearly. Failure to address these concerns by the healthcare system and provide culturally competent services runs a risk of negative consequences in the healthcare system, patients end up receiving poor services and dissatisfied with the care they receive, thus, the continued prevalence of diabetes among the Latino population.
In conclusion, to improve the quality, access, and use of healthcare services, it is important that the physicians, and other practitioners involved understand the cultural background of a patient. The approaches mentioned above like coalition between the community and the health system, improve health facilities and manpower in the Latino population, an increase in the patient-provider ratio as well as coordination and training of outreach workers that are culturally trained will help in curbing the prevalence of diabetes in the Latino community.