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Health equality in Houston

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By Erica Quiroz, MD Anderson Staff Writer

BeverlyGor.jpgBeverly Gor, Ed.D., is committed to bringing awareness to the health needs of Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders (AAPI), a commonly overlooked population in Houston.

Through Children And Neighbors Defeat Obesity (CAN DO Houston) and the Asian-American Health Coalition (AAHC), Gor is passionate about educating and improving the health of this vast group of people.

Awareness will be at the forefront of the Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved and Health Equity, June 26-July 1 at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel.

The symposium will feature the 10th annual summer workshop, "Disparities in America: Working Towards Social Justice."

Gor says the symposium will give AAPI health and cancer issues national attention and bring awareness to the specific needs of AAPIs in Houston.

"Asian-Americans are a very diverse community," Gor says. "Although they are normally thought to be the same, they are culturally and linguistically different, which complicates addressing the disparities in this population."

Gor says one of the hardest barriers to overcome is the difference in languages.

"There isn't a common language like there is with Hispanics," Gor says. "Which makes it harder for them to get access to care and health equity to address cancer needs."

According to Census 2010, Asian-American and Pacific-Islander populations grew faster than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States.  

A community in need
With those numbers in mind, Gor co-founded the Asian-American Health Coalition in 1994 and the HOPE Clinic in 2002.

Through these organizations, the goal is to improve the lives of Asian-Americans by reducing chronic disease and cancer risk  through community health education and by providing primary health care services.

"We saw a major need in our community," Gor says. "The HOPE Clinic is a culturally and linguistically appropriate health care facility that needed to be formed. News of the clinic spread and more people started coming to the clinic."

However, Gor says she still notices a lot of Asian individuals are not accessing care in a timely manner.

"Prevention is not a familiar concept to many immigrant Asian-Americans," Gor says. "If they don't feel bad and don't have any symptoms, they don't go to the doctor, resulting in late detection and complications with the disease."

Gor says that most immigrants come from a background where food is less accessible and affordable.

"In America, many Asian-Americans overindulge, resulting in obesity, cancer, diabetes and other health concerns.

"We're almost fighting a cultural perspective on what is a healthy diet and an appropriate body weight. We are tailoring our health education and interventions to encourage Asian-Americans to adopt healthier lifestyles by recommending that they retain their cultural eating habits while still enjoying the bounty in America."

For more information about CAN DO Houston, visit www.candohouston.org or contact Beverly Gor at bjgor@mdanderson.org or Niiobli Armah IV at niiobli@candohouston.org.

To register for the biennial or workshop, visit the website.

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