Office of Special Racial/Ethnic Health Issues
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
Nadia Gardana, MPH, Director
Office of Minority Health
Puerto Rico Department of Health
PO Box 70184
San Juan, PR 00936-0184
Phone: (787) 765-2929x3695
Fax: (787) 724-5739
The Puerto Rico Office of Special Racial/Ethnic Health Issues and the Primary Care Office are located within the External Affairs Office in the Puerto Rico Department of Health. The Puerto Rico Office of Minority Health (PR-OMH) was established administratively by the state secretary of Health in September 2000. Prior to that date, the Health Department did not have any organizational entity that focused exclusively on minority health activities.
The Puerto Rico Department of Health is responsible for dealing with the health needs of the general population, but there was not a specific official plan for identifying, monitoring, and addressing the health disparities within minority groups and the special health needs of some specific sub-populations.
The Office of Special Racial/Ethnic Health Issues is located within the Puerto Rico Department of Health in the External Affairs Office where it is able to coordinate with, and involve a wide range of state resources to address the public health needs of racial/ethnic minorities and/or to undertake special projects to address emerging health related issues impacting minorities communities in the Island.
Puerto Rico’s 3.9 million population enjoys richness in racial and ethnic diversity and identities. Recently the influx of people from places as far as China and as near as Haiti and the Dominican Republic has significantly expanded the population mosaic. While over time, this multicultural and multiracial diversity has created a positive learning environment, health officials understand that with diversity there may be a number of new and growing health issues that could go undetected and that should be addressed. It would be unfair and unjust to address the needs of the population at large and remain ignorant of the special needs of sub-populations like the newly arrived Asians, Haitians, and Dominicans, or the special health problems of Puerto Ricans in general.
The Puerto Rico Office of Special/Ethnic Health Issues was created as a vehicle for implementing change. It was designed to assess the health care needs of special populations and to act as a focal point of information and policy coordination for communities, consumers, providers, and policymakers on issues that have an impact on the residents of the island. It will identify, characterize, detect, and monitor any health disparity within the general minority Puerto Rican population and other special sub-populations.
The mission of the office is to assist the secretary of health on issues related to improving the health status of the immigrant populations and Puerto Rico with special health needs. This goal is in agreement with the overall mission of the Department of Health, to promote and protect the health of all the residents of the island by providing access to high quality preventive and medical services.
The Puerto Rico Office of Special/Ethnic Health Issues works collaboratively with governmental and non-governmental organizations, academia, and community based organizations, coordinates activities with the federal Office of Minority Health, and provides assistance in designing, implementing, and evaluating health programs to address any health disparities identified within the general Puerto Ricans minority population and or within sub-populations. The specific responsibilities of the office include:
▪ Develop a profile on the Puerto Rican minority populations and other special sub- populations;
▪ Identify special health needs unique to minorities and special sub-populations;
▪ Document health disparities and prioritize health problems;
▪ Collaborate with existing offices and agencies in the design of programs to reduce or
▪ Maintain open communication with all collaborators and sharing information;
▪ Provide technical assistance; and
▪ Serve as a clearinghouse for information.
Puerto Rico’s Healthy People 2010 Plan – provided assistance in developing strategies and launching the campaign.
Dominican Immigrant Population - produced a report on statistical data of the Dominican immigrant population living in Puerto Rico and developed strategies for carrying out health needs assessment for the residing Dominican population.
State Partnership Initiative – (Federal OMH contract) develop strategies for carrying out health needs assessment for the population of homeless persons residing in Puerto Rico.
2005 OMH State Partnership Grant Program - to improve recruitment of young persons from marginalized communities into the study of a health profession.
State and Territorial Minority HIV/AIDS Demonstration Grant Program (funding from the Federal Office of Minority Health) - to identify the need within the jurisdiction through the enhancement of the surveillance and services collection system, and to create the linkages of the services provided by community-based organizations (CBOs) with other state and local recipients of federal funds to develop greater resource capacity.
State and Territorial Minority HIV/AIDS Demonstration Grant Program (funding from the Federal Office of Minority Health) to identify needs for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Services for Minority Populations within the Island, improve linkages between CBOs and state entities, assist in coordinating federal resources going into high-need minority communities, and facilitate access to federal technical assistance available to community based-organizations.
Year Federal State Private
FY 2005-06 $148,750 0 0
FY 2006-2007 $159,250 0 0
The Puerto Rico Office of Special/Ethnic Health Issues does not have a separate state budget. Its expenditures are included in the overall funds for the DOH External Affairs Office. Since 2000, the Office has received the sum of $643,600.00 in contracts and awards from the federal Office of Minority Health and Region II Office of Minority Health.