The African American Health Coalition (AfAHC) of the Metropolitan Houston Area is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Since 1992, the organization has addressed issues related to minority health disparities. The coalition initially grew from the Texas Minority Health Summit, which was convened in San Antonio, Texas on May 13-14, 1992. Summit participants focused on the need to take control of the problem of widespread inapplicability of health programs to minority communities. The purpose of the summit was to build a network of persons committed to improving the health of African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and Native Americans living in Texas. The “core” group of individuals present at the Summit agreed to convene local minority health networks in their respective cities. It was expected that participants would identify actions they could take in three major categories: 1)Legislation, 2)Neighborhood Action and 3)Media Attention.
On June 1, 1992, the Houston Coalition (core group) held its first meeting and decided to officially named the group the Houston Minority Health Coalition (HMHC). In keeping with the Texas Minority Health Summit the group made plans to include all of the ethnic minority groups.
The Houston Minority Health Coalition was effective in sponsoring political forums, participating in statewide minority health conferences and establishing neighborhood and media action events. In 1994, due to increased networking, member involvement and continued participation throughout the city, the coalition changed its name to more adequately reflect the areas being served. The new name became the Houston Area Minority Health Coalition(HAMHC).
From 1994 to 1997 many joint minority health activities were held for the various ethnic communities. Due to the vast disparity recognized by each ethnic group and a continued commitment to advocate and educate communities of color, coalition members began to organize and present targeted activities for their communities. One such group was The Greater Houston African American Health Coalition, initiated in 1995. All of the coalitions increased minority disparity awareness in theory, but efforts were short lived because of lack of local funding and a decrease in support from the Region VI office. Therefore on January 27, 1997 the Health Community Alliance of Southeast Texas (HCASET) was created. This organization was an attempt to continue the good work already being done and was described as a “coalition of coalitions” including the African American Health Coalition, Asian Health Coalition, Houston Healthy Coalition and Hispanic Health Coalition. The Native American Health Coalition was added later. Through this collaboration, HCASET was able to apply for and receive minority health coalition grant funding, which provided funding for the many collaborative activities that were created. The Greater Houston Area Education Committee (AHEC) served as the neutral fiduciary and host partner for this coalition.
Unexpectedly, state funding ended in the spring of 1997. However, as an initiative of State Senator Rodney Ellis, a group of health and social organizations came together to establish the present coalition – The African American Health Coalition (AfAHC).
The AfAHC is a nonprofit community based organization in Houston, TX with the mission to promote healthy lifestyles and advocate for healthy communities for people of African descent. This year, we developed a 4-year advocacy plan that tackles the social determinants of health.
The plan for Year 1 is to develop an understanding of social determinants of health (SDOH). We are working toward this goal by providing education presentations at our bimonthly general meetings, inviting community based organizations to attend meetings to learn about SDOH and to join the coalition in our efforts, and inviting community members to learn about SDOH and to join the coalition in our efforts.
The plan for Year 2 is to select SDOH topics that have the largest health impacts on our communities. We will work toward this goal by gaining a deeper understanding of the root causes, interventions, gaps, relevant policies, and opportunities for improvement. We will also identify city and county initiatives, hear community perspectives, seek advocacy training, and attend the legislative session in Austin, TX. We want to begin building rapport with local elected officials so AfAHC becomes a recognized and trusted organization.
The plan for Year 3 is to have meetings with local elected officials to educate them on the identified challenges and potential solutions to overcoming adverse health outcomes. To reach this goal we will develop legislative asks and draft documentation with statistics, evidence, costs savings, and overall impact to support our asks.
The plan for Year 4 is to actively participate in the legislative session, meet with elected officials, and identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of our community. This organization become a change-agent and pillar in the African American community!
Please join us in our efforts!