Welcome to our blog series, “Meet the AAPCHO Team,” where you’ll have a chance to get to know our staff! Meet John Nguyen-Yap, Associate Director of Health Equity, as he answers some questions.
What’s your role at AAPCHO?
I am the Associate Director of Health Equity. Working primarily with the training and technical assistance team, I will be focused on various responses mitigating the impact of COVID-19 by helping community health centers (CHCs) increase their capacity to serve their patients.
What are three Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander health topics that you think people should know about?
Disaggregation of data and disaggregation of our stories is a core need for Asian American (AA), Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) health equity. While the idea of an AA identity and community was, and is still, a core asset to solidarity and advocacy, it is also an act of solidarity to increase the visibility of the diversity of needs across AA and NHPI communities. If we want to raise up the health outcomes across our communities, we need to be able to see where and what types of resources are needed the most.
Another health topic that greatly impacts AA and NHPI communities is mental health. There are numerous reasons why mental health is an important health issue for our communities, but two aspects to reflect on are cultural and linguistic access and stigma reduction. Mental health treatment is often literally lost in translation since many of the terms and concepts are “Western” constructs. “Mental health” is not directly translatable in most non-English languages. As well, many indigenous practices address what we call mental health in very different ways. This means that for AA and NHPI communities to identify their own needs and access care, they need to have care providers and outreach workers that understand cultural perspectives and have the language capacity to listen, hear, and deliver the care.
Finally, while we have seen what misinformation can do to exacerbate health disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the battle against misinformation has existed for much, much longer. Whether it has been delivered by incorrect news sources, misunderstood due to language barriers, or blossomed innocently through word-of-mouth, AA and NHPI communities are consistently being challenged to sift through misinformation. Increasing the amount of correct information and trusted voices will be essential to achieving health equity in our communities.
How would you describe what community health centers do and why they should support them to someone who may not be familiar with them?
Access. CHCs are a major part of the solution when we envision equitable health outcomes because CHCs increase access to high quality health care for communities that have otherwise been marginalized from other options due to insurance coverage, cost of care, culturally knowledgeable and responsive staff and providers, language barriers, distance of care, stigma, isolation, and racial discrimination.
For AAs and NHPIs, health and wellness are priorities, and they look, sound, and feel different across the communities. At our various member CHCs, you will see health and wellness practiced in different ways. Consider the work that AA- and NHPI-serving CHCs are doing regarding diabetes where treatment and prevention is achieved through, but not limited to, indigenous farming practices, neighborhood walkability assessments, support groups facilitated in AA and/or NHPI languages, and community health workers that are hired from the community to reach out and educate the community to increase healthcare visits, healthy behaviors, and destigmatizing health care and self-advocacy.
What are you most looking forward to in this new year at AAPCHO?
Addressing the impact of COVID-19 in the AA and NHPI communities will last much longer than the existence of the pandemic. I look forward to working with my AAPCHO colleagues and our member CHCs and partners to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 from all angles and start the long road to physical, mental, and emotional healing.
What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?
Sinigang (Filipino sour tamarind soup).