Little Havana is a neighborhood that has sufficient health facilities but lags in terms of health educational programs. The high poverty rate of the region further aggravates the issue, restricting the population from the health insurance and affordable medical services.
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Little Havana is a central neighborhood of Miami-Dade County, one of the largest urban areas of the state of Florida. Since the 1960s, it has experienced an influx of immigrants and is now deemed a “minority-majority” county, a rare phenomenon where the white non-Hispanic population is a minority. It is a well-developed area, with solid social infrastructure that includes public schools, the public transportation system, and several local small businesses.
The general impression is that Little Havana has an active and young population, with few signs of social or cultural decline. Nevertheless, homeless people can be seen in the streets. Despite this, the general character of the community is positive.
The overwhelming majority of the population of Little Havana is of Hispanic ethnicity (95%), with most of the Hispanic residents being either from Cuba (43%) or Central America (41%), hence the name of the neighborhood. This aligns with the Miami-Dade county’s statistics, which has 66% of the Hispanic population, but does not represent the state data – the state of Florida is populated mainly with non-Hispanic whites (77%), whereas about a third of the remaining 23% are of Cuban origin.
The population is quite young, with the average age of the community ranging from 10-25, and the people older than 65 comprise 26% of the total (19% in the state of Florida). The median household income is slightly above $23000, lower than that in Florida ($46900), so the poverty rate is rather high, with 34% being below the Federal Poverty limit. Almost half the population (44%) does not have health insurance, compared to the much lower 20% in Florida overall (Smith & Medalia, 2015).
The leading causes of death in Little Havana are heart disease, malignant neoplasm, chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease, and unintentional injuries. The first three causes are also the leading causes in Florida overall. The heart disease, the leading cause of death usually results from obesity, which is enormously widespread in Little Havana – 63 percent of the adult population and 23 percent of teens being overweight or obese (Miami-Dade, 2015).
This number is also higher than that of the state of Florida, with 58 and 19 percent, respectively. The age-adjusted rates of cancer incidence are only slightly higher than that of Florida, with 438.8 and 428.3 incidents per 100000 citizens, respectively. Of these, breast cancer comprises one fourth of the total incidence, and results in 18.9 deaths per 100000 females (18.2 for the state of Florida). Of all the diagnosed cancer cases, about half are diagnosed during the late stage: 42% for breast cancer (also higher than Florida’s 35%), 85% for lung cancer (78% in Florida), and 58% for colorectal cancer (same percentage as that of Florida) (Florida death rate, 2015).
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Little Havana has a number of health care centers. First, there are two general hospitals: Select Medical and Pan American. Additionally, a cardiologic clinic and several dentist’s practices have been noticed in the residential area. Finally, three counseling mental health centers and a rehabilitation center are present in the area, as well as a range of pharmacies. According to local testimonies, there are several homeless shelters, although only one has been spotted.
In all, the number and range of the health care establishments are sufficient. On the other hand, the region seems to lack the health education segment. No family planning centers have been found, and the advertisements focus mainly on promoting alternative and folk medicine, which seems to be popular among the local population. The herbal stores and a spiritual shop are constantly visited by the customers. Thus, the decent medical resource base is undermined by the lack of effort to raise medical awareness.
Little Havana is experiencing a range of health problems, such as cancer, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease, which is common for the state of Florida, albeit to a lesser degree. Paradoxically, the medical infrastructure is formidable in the region. At the same time, the absence of the campaign aimed at raising health awareness, coupled with the cultural predisposition to the folk and alternative practices, creates the unfavorable health conditions.
Thus, the primary concern is the access to health services. Besides the already mentioned lack of educational effort, the factor that contributes to the issue the most is the high poverty rate, which not only restricts the citizens from buying health assurance but denies them the proper treatment (Saint-Jean & Crandall, 2005). Additionally, the poor life conditions result in the emergence of sex workers, which in turn creates additional health breaches that remain unaddressed (Surratt, Kiley, Inciardi, & Kurtz, 2005). The described health concern is related to the Healthy People 2020 objective AHS-6 “Reduce the proportion of persons who are unable to obtain or delay in obtaining necessary medical care, dental care, or prescription medicines.” (Access to health services, 2015, para. 6)
Despite the developed health-related resource base, Little Havana suffers from the lack of access to health services, which is indicated through poor epidemiological data correlated to the financial disparities of the majority of the population. The poverty level influences the health issues both directly, by limiting the possibilities of citizens to get proper treatment, and indirectly, by creating the unfavorable conditions. Additionally, little effort is observed to promote the healthy lifestyle.
Access to health services. (2015). Web.
Florida death rate query system. (2015). Web.
Miami-Dade county community health report card. (2015). Web.
Saint-Jean, G., & Crandall, L. A. (2005). Sources and barriers to health care coverage for Haitian immigrants in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 16(1), 29-41.
Smith, J & Medalia, C. (2015). Health insurance coverage in the United States. Web.
Surratt, H. L., Kiley, M. C., Inciardi, J. A., & Kurtz, S. P. (2005). Barriers to health and social services for street-based sex workers. Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 16(2), 345-361.