Promotores/as or Community Health Workers (CHW) provide outreach and education to members of their community. They receive training, and they can be in paid positions or work as volunteers. Promotores/as are an integral part in linking underserved populations to existing resources and services. They play key liaison and educator roles among vulnerable populations, including agricultural workers in particular. Their familiarity with binational health issues in the context of migration is imperative. The HIA promotores/as program has three components: promotoras/es training manuals on migration and health, online certifications, promotoras/es exchanges, and binational conferences.
To enhance the work of promotores, HIA collaborates with its partners in the U.S. and Mexico to produce Spanish-language promotoras manuals and training materials on health topics pertinent to migration and migrants.
2) Online Educational Certificates for Promotores
In partnership with the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ) and the UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety (WCAHS), HIA has developed two, 10-week online educational certificate programs (Diplomas) for promotores (community health workers, or CHW) who provide essential health promotion and educational messages to their community. The programs provide structured training on Nutrition and Health, as well as Occupational Health of Migrant Workers. Courses are taught in Spanish using plain language and practical exercises. Upon completion, the promotores receive a certificate and academic credits from UAZ.
Since 2014, we have partnered with Iniciativa Ciudadana (Citizen Initiative) and other key international organizations to develop a 6-month online certificate on psychological first aid for immigrants and refugees. Since 2019, a condensed version in English has also helped to train providers in the United States and Europe.
Every year HIA organizes the Binational Promotores Conference where hundreds of promotores from the U.S. and Latin America attend and share best practices and strategies to enhance their work with the migrant populations. The two main objectives of this conference are to 1) increase participants’ knowledge of the health care systems in various countries in Latin America and the United States; as well as the social and cultural factors that impact migrant’s health, and 2) increase participants’ awareness of challenges faced by migrants in California and the rest of the U.S. that influence their health; in the topics of mental health, occupational health and safety, women’s sexual and reproductive health, and human development.
The 20th Annual Binational Conference for Promotores will take place on March 12, 2020 in Oakland, California. More information here.
3) Promotoras/es exchanges
The purpose of the binational promotores exchange is to build their knowledge of health care systems in both the United States and Mexico and to develop skills in providing culturally competent care.
Promotora/es from USA travel to Mexico to visit promotoras/es training sites and meet with their counterparts to experience firsthand the context in which they operate and their service communities live. Mexican promotoras/es have a comparable experience in California, where HIA and partner organizations host them and facilitate their exchange experiences. The promotoras/es are exposed to the social, cultural, and political environment in which Mexican migrants live and the ways in which their life circumstances affect personal decisions to seek health care, access existing health services, and comply with medical treatments.