Community Context and Challenges

  • Significant disparities exist in income, education, employment, insurance coverage, and health; Hispanic residents, in particular, are the least educated and most impoverished.

  • Controversial immigration policies targeting the Hispanic population and federal policies that limit immigrant access to health care present significant challenges to health equity.

  • The state has cut funding for community colleges, which have traditionally played an important role in providing advanced skills and job training for many Hispanic residents.

  • Minority groups lack access to health care coverage and are less likely to seek medical care; 43% of Hispanics have not seen a doctor in past 12 months, followed by 35% of black, 30% of American Indian, and 17% of white residents.

Community Actions: A First Look

To overcome its lack of dependable financial resources, Maricopa County’s health department strategically fosters collaboration and helps coordinate initiatives.

This approach was emphasized as part of the 2012 Maricopa County Community Health Assessment. The assessment identified several public health priorities, including: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and access to health care. The assessment also noted that “as our population continuously grows in numbers and diversity, the Department will not be able to meet its needs alone, but through partnerships and collaboration”

These baseline reports, created in 2016, track community programs and initiatives in their early stages and measure initial progress only. Future reports will provide more in-depth insights and analysis into this community's efforts to build a Culture of Health.

Going Forward: Questions for Consideration

Maricopa County’s health department is leveraging its limited resources by mobilizing people and organizations to create robust partnerships and providing high-level coordination services such as strategic planning, networking opportunities, and other forms of technical assistance. Nevertheless, the department faces significant limitations due to the lack of funding for public health. It also faces the challenge of addressing racial and ethnic disparities within a political environment fraught with anti-immigrant sentiment and other policies that affect access to health services for the largely Hispanic immigrant population.

Additional surveillance, data and information gathering, analysis, and reporting will examine the following questions in further detail:

  • To what extent, and for what population groups, have cross-sector collaborations improved the health and well-being of the county residents? For example, how has the 2012−2017 Community Health Improvement Plan progressed in addressing the five health assessment priorities: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and access to health care?
  • Which factors have facilitated or inhibited the collaborative atmosphere in Maricopa County? How have individuals and organizations sought to overcome obstacles?
  • In what ways have budgetary limitations affected the health department’s efforts to foster cross-sector collaborations to improve public health?
  • To what extent are community leaders working in a coordinated manner to improve the public health infrastructure?
  • What types of agencies have formed to address gaps in access to services among vulnerable populations, especially among unauthorized immigrants who are unable to receive most government-provided services?
  • How are various sectors of the community (e.g., education, health, business) working together to address socio-economic disparities?
  • In what ways are leaders in Maricopa County working to incorporate underrepresented minority groups into the public discussion on health and well-being?