New Grant To Address Health Care Inequality For Farmworkers

Applied Ecology’s Toxicology and Agromedicine Extension Program and collaborators at East Carolina University’s College of Health and Human Performance and Student Action with Farmworkers have secured a three-year, $427,551 health disparities grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine to address health care inequality faced by farmworkers.

Student Action with Farmworkers reports that North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation in the number of migrant farmworkers, who contribute $69.6 billion annually to North Carolina’s economy–nearly one-fifth of the state’s income.  Yet, farmworkers face several barriers to basic health care, including lack of transportation, limited clinic hours of operation, costs, limited interpreter services, and frequent relocation.

Dr. Catherine LePrevost is the extension agromedicine specialist for NC State and one of the collaborators for this project.  “Our own well-being, and the state’s economy, depends on them. Farmworkers and their families need access to high-quality, relevant information to help them stay safe and healthy,” says LePrevost. 

The NIH-funded project has identified three ways to promote health literacy among migrant and seasonal workers across North Carolina:

  • Identify and assess health information designed for farmworkers and promote the submission of evidence-based education materials to the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) HealthReach database;
  • Increase knowledge of NLM resources for farmworker health outreach workers and pilot technology to enhance education in combination with professional development opportunities;
  • Provide Wi-Fi hot spots and access to the internet in combination with health literacy training at farmworker youth programs and migrant labor camps.

LePrevost’s team will improve technology and resources available to the health outreach workers who provide education and health screenings for farmworkers and increase their access to health care.  “Agricultural health outreach workers serve as a bridge between farmworkers and health information and services,” says LePrevost. “We hope to reduce the health inequities that farmworkers face by giving outreach workers better tools.

ECU’s team includes Dr. Joseph G.L. Lee, associate professor and assistant chair of the Department of Health Education and Promotion in the College of Health and Human Performance, Dr. Leslie Cofie in the Department of Health and Human Promotion, Dr. Gina Firnhaber in the College of Nursing, and Jamie Bloss in the ECU library.  Melinda Wiggins, executive director of SAF, and her team will work with community partners to install and maintain internet access in labor camps.

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