New Health Literacy Program Connects Marshallese and Hispanics with Healthcare Resources

health literacy for hispanics and marshallese in arkansas
By Pamela Acosta

A new health literacy program seeks to connect local Marshallese and Hispanic communities with information, resources, and healthcare services in their native language. 

Our Healthy Alliance was born from a collaboration between Benton County, the Northwest Arkansas Council, and the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences (UAMS). 

During the pandemic, these organizations worked together to raise awareness in the community about the effects of COVID-19 and the importance of vaccination, including running and promoting free vaccine clinics around the region, according to a press release. 

The collaboration highlighted the need for continued cooperation and outreach among the Hispanic and Marshallese communities in Northwest Arkansas. 

Part of the resource hub includes a webpage where visitors can find three main categories regarding health care – how to find it, how to pay for it, and how to use it. The information is provided in English, Spanish, and Marshallese on their websites, Healthy NWA, Salud NWA, and Majol

“It can be hard to know where to start with health care, especially with language and cultural barriers,” added Jazmin Rivas, special programs coordinator of Community Clinic. “Our Healthy Alliance brings those options together in one place for community members, making it much easier to start their journey to better health.”

In addition to the webpages, the health literacy campaign will include community outreach, media engagement, and public awareness campaigns to make the healthcare system more accessible and friendly to the communities it serves.

“Our Healthy Alliance will make care easier to access for the more than 12,000 Marshallese residents in Northwest Arkansas,” said Carlnis Jerry, MREC program director with Marshallese Educational Initiative. “Our community has unique health needs and having a go-to health resource to make it easier to navigate, access resources, be welcoming, and have more trust within the health care system.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds the project through its program Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), designed to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. 

Through REACH, grantees plan and carry out local, culturally appropriate programs to address a wide range of health issues among Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Alaska Native persons.