Activists, leaders gather Saturday to talk disparities

State Rep. Lew Frederick and other community leaders gather Saturday to discuss ways to improve cultural competency in Oregon's health care system.

More than 100 community members from 20 ethnic backgrounds - activists, faith leaders, health care professionals, small-business owners and others - will participate in the State of Cultural Competency community forum and action plan organized by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon.

The forum is from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Great Hall of Portland Community College's Southeast Center, 2305 S.E. Division St.

Charmaine Manansala of the National Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum will give the keynote address at 10 a.m., discussing how to improve health care outcomes. Other speakers include Holden Leung of the Asian Health and Service Center, Frederick, Dr. James Mason of Providence Health Systems and Tina Edlund of the Oregon Health Authority.

'Our communities have grown nearly 50 percent over the last decade, and still we face persistent racial health disparities that demand a more culturally competent health care system' says Carmen Madrid, network board member and Health Equity chairwoman.

'Asians and Pacific Islanders in Oregon speak over 100 distinct languages, and we need to take a leadership role during this time of health reform to ensure our needs and ideas are addressed,' says network organizer John Hyunwook Joo.

'Oregon is undergoing major changes, and we need to hear the voices of those who are most impacted in our communities, including those without insurance, struggling with poverty, and new immigrants and refugees,' says Jean Yamamoto, leader of the network's Start with Equity Campaign.

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