My path to leading the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) goes back to the 1970s, when I came to the United States with $300, one piece of luggage and a few boxes of instant noodles. This was just a few years after I graduated from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan.
As an orthopedic surgeon, I spent the past 40 years serving a primarily minority population in San Gabriel Valley, California. During this time, I also had the honor of working with committed public servants around the world as part of medical relief efforts for natural disasters worldwide. We did this in places like Tibet, South Africa, Bolivia, Haiti, El Salvador and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Whether providing help to the victims of natural disasters or working to address the health needs of communities, it is clear that health providers, patients and communities working together can increase our impact and chances for success. This type of collaboration has been central to my career and is critical to the mission of OMH.
Last year, I was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of OMH, where we view our work through the lens of the social determinants of health. These determinants are the conditions of the places where people live, learn, work and play, and how they affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.
We work with national and local partners to improve health and healthcare for racial and ethnic minorities, and disadvantaged populations. We put people and communities at the center of our work by collaborating with national and local partners to encourage people to take charge of their health by adopting healthy habits and lifestyles.
Last year, we launched our Empowered Communities Initiative grants, which are helping communities address some of the nation’s most urgent public health challenges. Empowered Communities is helping residents in communities disproportionately affected by the opioid epidemic, childhood obesity and serious mental illness.
This year OMH will continue leveraging the power of national and local stakeholders to help advance programs and messages of prevention and healthy habits for Latinos and other minority populations we serve. We are especially excited to support Univision’s Healthy Habits campaign, which aims to raise awareness among Latinos to achieve a healthier lifestyle by taking small steps that will have big benefits in their future.
OMH and Univision are enlisting the support of individuals, as well as community and regional partners, throughout the country to help promote healthy lifestyles as Univision is launching its Promoting Healthy Habits Campaign. Get tips about how to adopt healthy habits on Univision’s website. Cheers to a healthy 2018!
Note: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision News.