A new weekly podcast aims to take a deep dive into how issues such as climate change, health care access, and obesity impact health equity among Latinos.

Salud America!, a San Antonio-based organization focused on Latino health outcomes, launched its podcast – Salud Talks – on Sept. 4 in an effort to “maximize its reach” as it works toward “building a culture of health for the Latino community,” podcast co-host Rick Carrillo said. 

“We wanted to provide a new medium to discuss some of the challenges and barriers Latinos face with regard to health systems and health issues,” said Car

rillo. “This is one of the first opportunities Salud America has had to go a little deeper into the details as to why and how these communities are disproportionately impacted by things such as infrastructure and the environment.”

Salud Talks is the newest project from Salud America!, a national organization established in 2007 and supported by UT Health San Antonio, to produce culturally relevant multimedia research, tools, and stories aimed at Latino children and families. This includes creating educational toolkits for schools that are sensitive to childhood trauma, highlighting local “heroes” who work to make a difference in Latino communities, and distributing news related to Latino health. 

Carrillo and podcast co-host Josh McCormack, digital content creator for Salud America!, have worked since April to determine the “major health disparities impacting Latinos today” and how to best address them in the podcast, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In its first episode, the Salud Talks podcast covered how Latinos are affected by climate change, and why they should be concerned. Guests included Dolores Belmares, a Texas field consultant for the advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force, and Juan Declet-Barreto, climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“A lot of people think that climate change is this large issue that is happening at the national level and our politicians are responsible for handling it,” McCormack said. “What they likely aren’t thinking about is how climate change will disproportionately affect underserved populations and Latinos, so we are trying to get that information out there.”

Latinos might be less educated about climate change and therefore misinformed about what they can do to make an impact. In some instances, financial barriers may prevent them from making choices that are environmentally friendly, Carrillo said.

The first podcast discusses how business owners and climate stakeholders can support efforts to change habits, whether through green energy jobs, recycling, or reducing their carbon emissions, and aims to educate listeners about the impact of climate change on Latino and underserved communities.

“Latinos are disproportionately impacted by climate change. It is the crisis of our time,” Declet-Barreto said during the podcast. “We don’t want to send the message that Latinos are incapable of addressing climate change, but not everyone has the same ability, money, or resources to” evacuate an area when a natural disaster hits, or to purchase goods that are environmentally sound.

Declet-Barreto said that while the number of Latinos living in food deserts might seem “a little bit outside the realm of climate change,” if you consider the closest grocery store for many of these people is the dollar store, “they are going to buy a whole lot of plastic bottles.”

The podcast isn’t solving these problems outright. Instead, the point is to build a culture of health for the Latino community that centers around health equity, Carrillo said.

“We are trying to start a national conversation on some of these topics we hear every day, but are rarely looking directly at the Latino and underserved experience,” Carrillo said.

The second episode, set for release Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 6 a.m., will discuss inequity in medical treatment and health care for Latinos, including how different factors such as family structure and spirituality impact how they receive treatment for cancer or chronic health conditions. It will feature UT Health San Antonio’s Dr. Daniel Carlos Hughes, who is leading a new pilot intervention that takes a holistic approach to improve cancer survivors’ quality of life.

“We are striving to have conversations that people can easily digest about where we are, how we got here, and what we have to do to close gaps and eliminate disparities when it comes to the health of the Latino community,” McCormack said.

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.