Community Health Advocacy

Changing the Dominant Discourse With America Bracho, Transform 2015 Presenter


Community Health Advocacy


Post written by Eric Anderson


In her 2013 TedMed talk, America Bracho, M.D., MPH, the Founder and Executive Director of Latino Health Access, explained how her organization hoped to change the "dominant discourses" of health care that have failed to reach the low-income communities of Santa Ana, California:

"we recruit the heart and train the brain — in that order.”

She framed her presentation by sharing the diner table conversations of her childhood in Venezuela. Her parents, both high school teachers, would talk about their students, how some didn’t come to class wearing shoes as their families were too poor to afford them. The dinner table is where Dr. Bracho began to learn about social disparity, not in institutions that many of the people within her community then and now are not granted access.



The etymology of recruit is "to strengthen, reinforce," from the French, recruter. While it is often connected to its military and corporate definitions of amassing force, the word recruit also means to replenish, recover, or re-establish. From her work directing the Latino Family Services’ AIDS project in Detroit, Michigan, Dr. Bracho knew this replenishment, if it was going to effect a community that as a whole did not have access to tradition models of health care, must be delivered by empowered members of that community (the heart) and come in the form of knowledge (the brain).

Whereas the discourse of health care is typically thought of as being a commodity dealt within the walls of hospitals and clinics, Latino Health Access instructs leaders of its surrounding communities to take health promotion and prevention advocacy into the public libraries, grocery stories, Laundromats and dining rooms of southern California.

How can Dr. Bracho’s model of recruitment and citizen empowerment be beneficial to other communities, including those that are not faced with limited access to health care? What are the potential pitfalls of delivering health care advisement outside of the discipline and supervision implied by the decorated walls of accredited institutions?

Bring your questions, concerns and insights to Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2015, where Dr. Bracho will be presenting her evolving model of communal health advocacy, participation and empowerment.



Registration is open for Transform 2015!

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