County Completes Asian Health Assessment; Supervisor Simitian asks, "Where do we go from Here?"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        
November 8, 2017

SANTA CLARA COUNTY COMPLETES ASIAN HEALTH ASSESSMENT

SUPERVISOR SIMITIAN ASKS:
“WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?”

SAN JOSE – Santa Clara County has completed a major health assessment for the County’s Asian residents, providing a valuable new resource to guide future public health programs. Created at the urging of County Supervisor Joe Simitian, this is the first in-depth study of the specific risks, diseases, disparities, and other important factors affecting the health of groups that make up over a third of the County's population.

"This assessment is an investment in the health of Santa Clara County's Asian residents – over a half-million people," said Simitian, who co-authored the Board's action with Supervisor Dave Cortese. "It's also an investment in our own public health programs. The data from this process will help the County health system do its job more effectively."

“The Assessment clearly documents the fact that our county’s Asian/Pacific Islander community is, in fact, comprised of diverse populations with different health needs and circumstances,” said Simitian. These Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Pacific Islander residents make up the bulk of the county’s Asian population. However, while they may share some health characteristics, Simitian notes that generalities about the health care needs of the Asian community, “masks a better understanding of the specific needs of various Asian subgroups.”

At a meeting of the County’s Health and Hospitals Committee earlier today, Simitian said the most important question now is: “Where do we go from here?” Simitian asked County staff for a work plan within the next few months that would “have a tangible impact on the health of the community.”

“The fact is, different communities have different health care needs. That’s a medical fact,” said Simitian. "One size doesn't fit all in a diverse county like ours. The more we understand about the diverse health care needs of our diverse population, the better we'll do at addressing them. This new data should help guide our work to more effectively serve the people of Santa Clara County."

The report is available online at: www.sccphd.org/aha

Designed to provide detailed insights into the behavioral health risks, disparities, and chronic diseases that affect the major Asian subgroups in Santa Clara County, the Asian Health Assessment builds on the success of the County's 2011 Vietnamese Health Assessment, as well as similar prior studies conducted among the County's Latino, LGBTQ, child, and African American populations. The data from the assessment will help the County and its nonprofit partners target the highest-priority health issues facing Asian residents and design more effective messages to reach those residents.

More than a third of Santa Clara County’s population is of Asian descent. Even though Asian/Pacific Islanders overall tend to be healthier than other ethnic groups, disparities exist between and among Asian/Pacific Islander subgroups.

For example, while life expectancy among the county’s Indian and Chinese residents is over 90 years, Pacific Islanders in Santa Clara County have a life expectancy of only 78.7 years, the lowest of any subgroup in the report.

“This report helps us to better understand the extraordinary complexity and diversity of Asian/Pacific Islanders living in our county”, said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. “Understanding the health outcomes and risk behaviors of each unique Asian/Pacific Islander subgroup will help to address health disparities and focus resources where they are needed, a core part of public health.”

"The Asian community in Santa Clara County is rich in its diversity," said Sarita Kohli, President and CEO of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), a nonprofit health and social services provider based in San Jose. "The County's assessment of the different needs of Asian subgroups will help us target our services, make more efficient use of our resources, and improve the health and wellness of County residents."

The Asian Health Assessment began in 2016 with a broad review of existing health data by the Public Health Department's Epidemiology and Data Management Unit. The Department supplemented this existing data with a survey.

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