Our mission is to promote equitable social, economic, and environmental conditions to achieve optimal health, mental health, and well-being for all, with a focus on Latino communities across the state.
Our vision is a world where your zip code does not determine your lifespan.
A Maryland that enshrines healthcare as a human right and where justice, diversity, equity and inclusion are no longer simply aspirational, but a tangible truth.
Our central challenge is how do we mobilize understanding and sustained commitment to eliminate health inequity and improve the health, mental health, and well-being of all. The work is complex and must be addressed across systems. We do this through building strong partnerships and collaborative alliances that help bring together and leverage available resources to reduce and remove barriers to access.
Affordable housing is difficult to find, especially if household income is around $55,321 in 2020. Median household income and home prices in Maryland are higher than other states. Similar to Washington, DC, Maryland’s median family income is $84,805 and is even higher in several of the counties where Latinos are settled: Montgomery County is $98,704 – Anne Arundel – $89,031. State home prices average around $373,264 and are higher in places like Montgomery and Prince George’s counties where the community is 21 percent of the population respectively.
Why is access to resources challenging for Maryland’s Latino communities? The reasons are varied. Many Latinos are uninsured and under-insured. It is estimated that about 25% of the community has no insurance. Many Latinos work multiple jobs to make ends meet but do not have access to insurance through their workplace because their jobs are part-time. This is especially true of Latinas who require flexibility to be able to take care of their families.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck our communities and ripped the bandaid off of decades of disparities in access to care that were largely invisibilized, grassroots efforts pulled together with government, non-profits, academics, and health systems to provide accessible services and education to Latino/Hispanic communities that were disproportionately affected.
The City of Annapolis partnered with Maryland Latinos Unidos, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, the Center of Help, and CASA Maryland, to develop a plan to bridge those gaps in service, and through those efforts and the support of the CDC Foundation and the Maryland Department of Health, we were able to establish MALVEC, the Mid-Atlantic Latino Vaccine Equity Coalition.
Our initial priority was to work around the emergency, education for community members, training programs for boots on the ground workers and supporting and sustaining CHWs on the ground to be able to do their jobs, access to preventative health measures, access to testing and vaccinations once they became available, and to ensure equitable access to health services. Now, as the crisis ebbs, we are able to look beyond and become less reactive and more strategic, and embark on a new journey for health equity across the board. What we pulled together in the emergency, is now on the path to sustainability and continued support.
In July 2022, MALVEC partners discussed what its future could look like and came away saying that they want to keep the coalition going. The model that was developed to respond to the Covid19 crisis has proven incredibly successful – more than 22,000 Latinos were vaccinated and over 40,000 families were reached through collaboration, cooperation, and coordination. The model proved that in a crisis, the relationships that we have built over time and the practice with which we engage with one another, can make, or break our ability to enhance services to the community.
MALVEC members agreed that we should keep up the partnership so we could continue to learn collectively and be able to move available resources quickly should a crisis occur, whether another pandemic like the growing cases of Monkeypox or a climate disaster. MALVEC’s successor is called the Latino Health Equity Alliance (LHEA). We believe that the value and experience collaborating the Alliance brings can significantly impact how we achieve health equity for Latinos in Maryland. It will provide us a space through which we can expand into broader areas of healthcare, weigh in on important policy decisions that impact our community based on the lessons learned during Covid19, while continuing to convene meetings with our allies, legislative, and agency partners at the local and state level.
What does this mean for MALVEC?
The MALVEC vaccination partnership will continue, and the work and lessons learned will be applied to the development of additional programs in Health Literacy, Latino Youth and Mental Health, and the Quiero Saber Pilot for HIV Self-Testing (I Want to Know). Through this model, we will build Community Advisory Groups and innovate how we work together to jointly address health challenges faced by Latinos every day. Maryland Latinos Unidos (MLU) will continue in its role administering the work of the alliance as it evolves and act as the locus of convening, conversing, cultivating, and coalescing across organizations.
We hope you are as excited as we are to pursue this new approach to our future work. When we join together, we can do more. Juntos Podemos Más.
The Latino Health Equity Alliance is a group of like-minded Latino leaders who seek to advance health equity in the state of Maryland. Meet us!