Health Disparities Center
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Zipatly Mendoza, MPH
Office Chief, Arizona Health Disparities Center
Bureau of Health Systems Development
Arizona Department of Health Services
150 North 18th Avenue, Suite 300
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: (602) 542-2909 or (602) 542-1219
Fax: (602) 542-2011
In 1991, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) published a report entitled “Closing the Decade,” documenting the fact that Arizona’s ethnic minority populations were experiencing above average incidences of death and disease. Following the release of this report, the chief of the health department’s Office of Local Health held meetings with the director and staff in the Region IX office to discuss the desirability of creating a minority health entity in the health department.
In 1992, the health department held its first minority health conference, followed by a second conference in 1993. In October 1993, the director of the Department of Health Services created the Center for Minority Health. Over the course of the years that followed, the Center’s activities began to diminish due to the lack of funding.However, the Center for Minority Health (CMH) was re-established in February 2004 within the Office of Health Systems Development (OHSD) to coordinate statewide efforts and to implement work activities specific to minority health. In September 2006, CMH changed its name to the Arizona Health Disparities Center. The Arizona Health Disparities Center (AHDC) builds upon a cross-sectional team approach and intra-agency effort integration.
The mission of the Arizona Health Disparities Center is to promote and protect the health and well being of the minority and vulnerable populations of Arizona by enhancing the capacity of the public health system to effectively serve minority populations and reduce health disparities.
The Arizona Health Disparities Center (AHDC) has three main goals, around which a strategic plan will develop:
1) Create a coordinated system among the agency’s activities and programs that addresses needs of minority populations;
2) Increase cultural awareness among ADHS staff and incorporate standards of cultural responsiveness in all services provided (directly or indirectly) by ADHS; and
3) Improve capacity of minority communities for health promotion and disease prevention.
The Arizona Health Disparities Center has an inventory of current ADHS minority health programmatic information, using information gathered across the Division of Public Health Services. AHDC will collect and review health statistics documents. The AHDC will maintain an inventory of this information in order to be the central repository for minority health data, serving as a resource and central point of contact on minority health issues. This information will be made accessible and practical for minority communities throughout the state.
The Minority Health Advisory Board (MHAB)
The MHAB was created to meet the following three goals:
1) To develop and convene internal recommendation to ADHS leadership;
2) To develop a network and coordinate ADHS program activities and resources; and
3) To serve as a role model (best practices) for internal and external programs and organizations.
The Minority Health Advisory Board has performed an internal and external assessment of minority health resources. The internal assessment guided the board in its development of the program recommendations and short-term objectives. The external assessment will serve as guide in the development of a minority health network throughout the state.
The advisory board has succeeded in developing recommendations and short-term objectives. Therefore, the advisory board will be expanded into an agency committee to ensure the recommendations and objectives are achieved.
CLAS Standards Training and Promotion
The AHDC promotes culturally appropriate and linguistically accessible services for all individuals served by ADHS. The AHDC’s goal is to incorporate CLAS standards to the overall department’s strategic plan.
In addition, the Center is a partner organization for the “Culture Matters” initiative. This initiative was launched in 2006 by the Health Services Advisory Group (HSAG), Arizona’s Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), to improve primary care providers’ skills in providing culturallyand linguistically appropriate care. (The primary care providers serve Medicare beneficiaries.)
Technical Assistance and Training
The Center serves and provides information and training resources for cultural competence, minority health, and health disparities. The Center is developing an online CLAS standards training for public health professionals that can be applied to ADHS staff and contractors. The Center provides technical assistance to ADHS programs to ensure grants and programs are culturally relevant and employ the use of best practices for vulnerable populations.
Health Planning and Policy Development
In late 2006, the advisory board developed a set of recommendations, including policy analysis, in conjunction with the Native American Liaison. As a team, the Center and the Native American Liaison analyze legislation and organizational policies and determine their impact on Arizona’s ethnic and racial populations.
Furthermore, the Center, along with the support of various community organizations, including but not limited to the Arizona Public Health Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart/American Stroke Association, American Diabetes Association, etc., developed a 2008 legislative proposal. The proposal provides specific legislative authority for the Arizona Health Disparities Center to legally outline the duties and first steps needed to promulgate change and to build an enduring epicenter of focus on eliminating health disparities.
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
TheArizona Health Disparities Center’s plan for eliminating health disparities includes goals, objectives, and activities that will be established for implementation from the following four areas of need:
1) Enhancing the infrastructure;
2) Mobilizing communities, building coalitions and developing networks;
3) Changing systems; and
4) Increasing participation of minorities in health professions.
Year Federal State
The Arizona Health Disparities Center will use a team approach to decrease health disparities. The AHDC will also convene an advisory board that will provide recommendations and help establish priorities. Additional resources include ADHS staff, space, and equipment.
The Arizona Health Disparities Center has two staff members: Program Manager and Resource Liaison. The staff roles and responsibilities are:
▪ Strategic Planning and Policy Development – Program Manager;
▪ Community Technical Assistance – Resource Liaison;
▪ CLAS Standards Training and Promotion – Program Manager;
▪ Resource Brokering– Resource Liaison; and
▪ Partner Consultation – all staff.
The Program Manager is a state funded position with some funding for administration and operations support. Program activities include participation by the
Arizona Department of Health Services’ Advisory Board and Arizona State University Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center. These linkages, as well as others, help leverage resources and efforts to
reduce health disparities.
The Arizona Health Disparities Center has a website: www.azminorityhealth.gov
with informational resources, and it has a registration for ADHS Email Network. Those on the
Email Network receive weekly electronic updates under the categories they choose when
registering. The categories are:
1) Conferences, Trainings, and Community Events Information;
2) Cultural Competency - Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services;
3) Data, News, and Policy Related to Health Disparities; and
4) Funding Opportunities.
The AHDC publishes a quarterly newsletter called AHDConnection. The newsletter features community stories, legislative updates and health highlights. The purpose of the newsletter is to serve as a communication mechanism to ensure stakeholder participation in building the capacity of the State to address health disparities.
The AHDC is featured on the Health Services Advisory Group webpage as a partner in the “Culture Matters” initiative to improve quality, increase knowledge, and promote
adoption and implementation of CLAS standards. Partner pages can be found at: