There are an estimated 165,000 indigenous Mexicans living in California, including Mixtec and Zapotec immigrant farm workers. Because many of these immigrants speak only their native non-written languages, there is little information about the needs of this community. An academic-community partnership research team developed a survey to assess basic needs that are known to be social determinants of health in the Mixtec and Zapotec community in Ventura County.
In summer 2013, Spanish-Mixteco and Spanish-Zapoteco bilingual promotoras conducted surveys in Spanish, Mixteco and Zapoteco in the greater Oxnard area in Ventura County, California to assess the following basic needs: ability of adults and children to obtain health services; household needs regarding work opportunities, food, housing, transportation, safety and education; and discrimination. Independent variables included respondent characteristics such as age, gender, marital status, living part of the year in another city, and household characteristics such as Spanish spoken in the household, number of household members and number of health care providers/agencies used. Several sets of analyses examined the relationship between basic needs and independent variables.
Respondents (N = 989) reported insufficient employment opportunities (74%), food for the family (59%) or housing (48%), lack of transportation (59%), and discrimination or bullying (34%). Most reported access to medical care for children (90%), but only 57% of respondents were able to get health care for themselves.
Many basic needs in the Mixtec and Zapotec community in Ventura County are unmet. It will require many different resources and services to address the needs of this community and to overcome longstanding inequities that are experienced by immigrant farm workers. Our findings will guide the development of future health programs and will serve as a baseline to evaluate the impact of services to improve the health conditions in this community.