Program Aims to Improve Health and Reduce Health Disparities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dr. Sonya Shin
(617) 872-0310

GALLUP, NEW MEXICO (Sept. 25, 2014) -- Partners In Health/Community Outreach, Patient Empowerment (COPE) was awarded a grant of $1,000,000 for each year over the course of three years for improving chronic disease prevention and access to healthy foods in Navajo Nation. COPE will work with more than a dozen partner organizations across Navajo Nation, as well as national partners, to improve access to healthy foods in local Navajo stores and chronic disease prevention services to young Navajo families.

The Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) award is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will administer the grants, which will run for three years, subject to availability of funds.

Overall, HHS awarded $35 million in new grant awards to 49 local health agencies. REACH, a CDC program that began in 1999, focuses on racial and ethnic communities experiencing health disparities. Awardees include local governmental agencies, community-based nongovernmental organizations, tribes and tribal organizations, Urban Indian Health Programs, and tribal and intertribal consortia. They will use public health strategies to reduce tobacco use and exposure, improve nutrition, increase physical activity, and improve access to chronic disease prevention, risk reduction, and management opportunities.

Seventeen organizations are receiving funds for basic implementation activities; 32 additional organizations are receiving funds to immediately expand their scope of work to improve health and reduce health disparities. REACH is financed in part by the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the Affordable Care Act.

“We are extremely excited at this opportunity to work with our community and clinic partners on these issues,” said COPE Director Dr. Sonya Shin. “We see this grant as a unique opportunity to change the landscape of healthy living across Navajo Nation. Within three years, we hope that young families will actually have healthy food available in their communities and will make more healthy choices for the long-term health of their children.”

Specifically, COPE and the local coalition will work with small stores across Navajo Nation to increase the availability of healthy foods, including locally-grown, traditional Diné foods. The coalition will also pilot the “Fruits & Veggies Program” (vouchers for fresh produce) for young families with health risk factors, which was developed by Wholesome Wave. The team will also build stronger collaborations between clinic providers and community outreach teams to provide health outreach to these families, using materials that have been specifically adapted for Navajo communities.

Learn more about COPE’s prevention and wellness projects. You can also follow their work on Facebook.