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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

October 2, 2017 | Community News, Community News and Media, Statewide

Observed annually from September 15 – October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history and culture of American citizens with ancestry in Mexico, Cuba, Spain, the Caribbean and both South and Central America. September 15 represents the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Started in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and expanded to a full month in 1988, National Hispanic Heritage Month spotlights the impact of Hispanic culture and ancestry with activities, lectures, tours, and events nationwide.

According to the CDC, about one out of every six people in the United States is Hispanic, making it the largest racial/ethnic minority group in the US. New Jersey is also the home to a significant number of persons of Latino Hispanic descent, representing 18.9% of the total population.*

Along with education, public health is an important issue in the Hispanic community. The CDC notes heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death among Hispanic people. Serious health risks like liver disease, stroke, obesity, and diabetes are higher for Hispanics compared to other ethnic groups.
The CDC lists four ways health care professionals can help Hispanic patients prevent disease and lower health risks:

  • Work with interpreters to eliminate language barriers, when patients prefer to speak Spanish.
  • Counsel patients on weight control and diet if they have or are at high risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.
  • Ask patients if they smoke and if they do, help them quit.
  • Engage community health workers (promotores de salud) to educate and link people to free or low-cost services.

* “Demographic and Economic Profiles of Hispanics by State and County, 2014”. 26 July 2011.


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