The Chinese health agenda: proposed strategies for improving Chinese American health and wellness.

Author:Hall, Layla R.
Position:4A Paper

(Original Title: The Chinese Health Agenda--Proposed Strategies for Improving Chinese American Community Health and Wellness)


The purpose of this report presented by Kent Woo, Executive Director of the NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, is to share with a wider audience the wealth of valuable information and innovation that was generated during the first Chinese Community Health Summit. It contains a brief summary of the Summit, documentation of the Summit sessions, and an analysis of key themes that emerged from the day's proceedings.

The first Chinese Community Health Summit, held on May 26, 2004, was born out of NICOS Chinese Health Coalition's mission to enhance the health and well-being of the San Francisco Chinese community. The Summit was a component of the San Francisco Chinese Community Health Agenda Project, a three-year endeavor funded by the California Endowment to address the health care access and preventive care needs of the city's underserved Chinese Americans.

On the day of the event, there were more than thirty presenters, fifteen informational booths, and more than 250 people in attendance. The Summit brought together panelists and participants with a range of expertise in serving the Chinese community. Present were health and human service providers, advocates, public officials, policy-makers, community professionals, and consumers. Simultaneous translation was available for non-English speaking Summit participants.

The Summit was designed to serve as a vehicle to report on and explore issues affecting the health and well-being of Chinese Americans as well as to develop and ultimately implement strategies to improve the population's overall health. Plenary speakers at the Summit provided participants with both quantitative and qualitative data on the health and wellness of the San Francisco Chinese community. During the eight breakout sessions that followed, a variety of issues were explored. Four of the sessions were primarily topical in nature, with expert panelists presenting on their areas of expertise. The other four sessions were focused on strategy development. Panelists shared their experiences, but Summit participants were expected to actively participate in the generation of new strategies for improving the well-being of the Chinese community. During the last session of the day, spokespersons from the strategy-building sessions shared their ideas with the entire Summit and elicited feedback from a panel of professionals invested in working to improve the health of the Chinese community.


The overarching goal of the Summit was to create a shared vision and mission to improve the health and well-being of the Chinese community, particularly those members who are economically and/or socially disadvantaged.

The Summit objectives were:

* To inform participants of up-to-date data findings on the health status and health care access, usage, and needs of San Francisco's Chinese community

* To develop effective collaborative strategies to address specific community health issues.

* To build participants' skills and knowledge, enabling them to address key community health concerns.

* To provide participants the opportunity to network with others engaged in ensuring the health of the community.


During the plenary session, Dr. Edward A. Chow, president of the San Francisco Health Commission, presented current quantitative data on the demographic and health characteristics of the San Francisco Chinese population, adopting the World Health Organization's view of health as a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. Data sources for his presentation included the 1997 Chinese Community Health Study, the 2000 Census, the 2001 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

According to the 2000 Census, 20 percent of San Francisco's population is Chinese. Of this 20 percent, 108,000 are foreign born, many of whom have difficulty with English. Furthermore, San Francisco's Chinese population faces disparities in income and education when compared with the city's white population. Elderly Chinese are particularly at risk for low educational attainment and limited English skills, while the noncitizen population is particularly prone to income below the poverty level.

The Chinese population faces difficulties accessing and utilizing health care. CHIS data indicates that the impoverished and the uninsured often lack a usual source of health care. Furthermore, the Chinese Community Health Study found that lack of preventive care is common among San Francisco's Chinese Americans. According to CHIS, disparities exist in utilization of dental visits, routine checkups, mammograms, pap smears, bone-density tests, colonoscopies, and PSA tests for prostate cancer.

The Chinese population experiences many common health problems...

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