Healthy Women – Healthy CommunitiesHow to Replicate
Subject of AnalysisCommunity Based Action Research, Community Engagement, Immigrant Health, Lay Health Promotion
AuthorAlma Estable, Mechthild Meyer, Sara Torres
Mujer Sana- Comunidad Sana: Healthy Women – Healthy Communities is a community-based health promotion and action research initiative to improve women’s health http://www.lazogroup.ca/aboutus/index-e.php
Minority communities continue to benefit from volunteer lay/community health workers who facilitate access to health information and health services. Mujer Sana – Comunidad Sana/Healthy Women – Healthy Communities recognized the importance of this work by providing accredited training and paid positions for lay health workers. We implemented a comprehensive model, combining lay health promotion, participatory action research, and community capacity-building to improve cancer screening practices among Spanish-speaking women in Ottawa. The 2 1/2-year demonstration project (2001-03) was funded by the Ontario Women’s Health Council. It was carried out in partnership with: the Latin American Support Organization (LAZO); Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC); Gentium Consulting; Community Health Research Unit (CHRU); and the University of Ottawa. An involved community advisory committee with more than 40 active members (settlement, ethnocultural groups, Ottawa Public Health, Cancer Care Ontario, health service organizations, women’s organizations, universities, colleges) provided guidance and capacity building to promote the project and lower access barriers.
- Test an innovative, participatory model to improve access to cancer information, screening and preventive health care for ethnoracial minority women, starting with one ethnic minority community (Hispanic) in one urban area (Ottawa).
- Increase the involvement of Hispanic women in their own preventive health care.
- Increase the capacity of service organizations to provide cancer screening for ethnoracial minority women.
- The project reached one third of Spanish-speaking women in Ottawa with health promotion and educational activities and increased women’s knowledge and motivation to seek preventative cancer screening. Health and other service organizations involved in the project continued to recognize the importance of addressing access barriers.
- The model was widely disseminated through a highly accessible website http://www.lazogroup.ca/aboutus/index-e.php, community presentation, and numerous conference presentations and publications (in academic journals, a book chapter and public media).
- The model was used also as a case study for the University of Ottawa and the Ontario Ministry of Health “Multiple Interventions Framework” Tool Kit (www.miptoolkit.ca).
- Spin-offs: A group of committed leaders continue to seek funding to further promote the model and support lay/community health workers:
- We are advocating for the recognition of community health workers, which has led to a proposal currently in front of the Canadian Public Health Association (policy table).
- As a result of submitting a research proposal to the Association of Community Health Centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres, the issue of lay/community health workers was selected as one of their top research priorities.