How do you access healthcare when you don’t speak the language? The fear is, those who encounter language barriers go without regular access to doctors, dentists, optometrists and medical specialists. The Wichita Asian Association (WAA) decided to pilot a solution for Wichita’s Asian community by interconnecting a health fair to a popular festival.
The Wichita Asian Festival is one of the most attended events in Wichita for those who identify as Asian and Asian American. The festival is a showcase of how the Asian community betters south central Kansas and highlights their culture.
This year, in addition to the festival, the WAA is holding a health fair to help people who speak Asian languages gain access to healthcare. The event will bring medical providers, translators and patients together to foster conversations about health and perform screenings.
“As generally speaking and wholistically speaking, health is not as prioritized as it should be within Asian cultures and that is the issue we are trying to address,” said Taben Azad of the Wichita Asian Association. “We are trying to make it more of a social norm and cultural norm that we address ailments to our bodies and mental states.”
Within Asian communities, views on healthcare vary significantly. Azad shared that the differences can be cultural, which is understandable given Asia is a massive continent consisting of six major ethnicities and dozens of countries.
The goals of the health fair are to break down barriers and help with access to affordable healthcare. WAA focused on getting Asian healthcare providers to come to the health fair in an effort to better engage the Asian community in Wichita.
“We know that representation matters a lot in health inequities. Getting people that look like us and have the same experiences was really important,” Azad said. “This is intentional about having us come to the people that are coming to the festival. This is the largest gathering of Asian Americans in the city of Wichita, we wanted to make it a two-for-one deal.”
The health fair is taking place on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Century II in downtown Wichita. Later that evening, the Wichita Asian Festival kicks off.
United Way of the Plains supports initiatives like this health fair, as we work on bettering the health of our south central Kansas community. WAA applied for our equity grant, Promise on the Plains, that invests in Wichita area nonprofits led by and serving Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to help close the gaps and disparities in health, education, financial stability and basic needs. WAA was one of 10 groups selected to receive funding.
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