Martin Luther King Day 2023

Dr. Martin Luther KIng

West Oakland Health Council honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dr. King called for greater fairness in our health care system, and 50 years ago in the midst of the Civil Rights and the Black Power Movements, four African American mothers launched the West Oakland Health. It immediately rose up as a neighborhood hub for healthcare, food and housing programs, and voter registration. 

Our formation reflected a grassroots response to the lack of medical providers in West Oakland, the high cost of medical services, and the high levels of illness and premature death in the area. Established as a nonprofit corporation, the Council began operations in 1969 with land donated by the city of Oakland, support from the Economic Development Administration for the construction of it first facility, the West Oakland Health Center, and a five-year grant from the U.S. Public Health Service for operating expenses.

As the Biden Administration continues its “pushing to put quality, affordable health care within reach of all people — especially the most vulnerable and marginalized Americans by lowering costs and improving access”, West Oakland Health continues to make health care a right and not just a privilege for the underserved community. We do this by providing sliding scale payment options.

We do not place a price on quality healthcare.

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month


Our eyes do so much for us by allowing us to see and interact with the beautiful world around us. Taking good care of our eyes should start in childhood. There are many things you can do as a parent to help your children care for their eyes, such as:

  • Using blue light glasses with screens
  • Choosing sunglasses with proper UV protection
  • Regular checkups and screenings with an eye doctor

Up to 1 in 17 preschool-aged children, 1 in 5 Head Start children, and an estimated 1 in 4 school-aged children has an undetected and untreated vision disorder that can interfere with their ability to develop properly and perform optimally in school.

Vision disorders that are not found and treated early can interfere with learning. Children can fall behind in school, show behavior problems in the classroom, lag behind other children in school and reaching developmental milestones, and even have permanent vision loss.

According to Prevent Blindness recommends a continuum of eye care for children to include both vision screening and comprehensive eye examinations. All children, even those with no signs of trouble, should have their eyes and vision screened at regular intervals. Here are five steps to identify and treat children with vision disorders:

  1. Parents/caretakers understand the importance of vision screening and arranging and attending an eye examination appointment if vision screening suggests a possible vision disorder.
  2. Children participate in routine vision screening conducted by trained and certified screeners using evidence-based tools and procedures.
  3. Children who do not pass vision screening are referred to their medical home or to an eye care professional (eye doctor) for a confirmatory, comprehensive eye examination, depending on the child’s insurance plan.Eye examinations are conducted by eye doctors trained and experienced in treating young children.
  4. Parents/caregivers arrange and take their children to the eye examination appointment.
  5. Parents/caregivers follow the treatment plan, including ongoing care, and share eye examination results with school nurses, Head Start personnel, and others to ensure the treatment plan is followed outside the home.

West Oakland Health Center provides screenings and eyeglasses. Make an appointment today by calling: (510) 835-9610

Gun Violence is Everyone’s Concern – Debunking Myths

Published May 26, 2022 | By Lindsay Smith Rogers

Following gun violence tragedies, familiar myths get recycled and recirculated—myths that distract from effective solutions and create smoke screens around the essential problem: We’re more interested in protecting sellers and buyers of guns than the public, Daniel Webster, ScD ’91, MPH, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutionssaid in an interview. 

A few myths that have surfaced in recent days:


FACT: “The common trope is that places like Baltimore or Detroit or Chicago are the reason we have so many gun deaths in this country,” Cass Crifasi, PhD ’14, MPH, the Center’s director of research and policy,  told the Chicago Tribune. “And yes, those places … have unacceptable rates of gun homicides. But the places with the highest rates of death are not Maryland, Michigan, and Illinois. They are Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri, and Alabama. The places with weaker gun laws have higher rates of death.” 

“More people died from guns in Texas than Illinois, when suicide and accidental shootings are included,” she added. 


FACT: While motives in the Uvalde massacre are still unknown, “increasingly, we are seeing people who are frustrated, angry and hateful and using firearms take that out on a particular group,” Crifasi told MarketWatch.  

But there’s a distinction between this and a diagnosable mental health issue. It’s also dangerous and irresponsible to link gun violence and mental health. For one thing, mental health issues are far more common than mass shootings: More than 50% of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives, according to the CDC

Fixating on motives and the mental health of those who perpetuate violence distracts from more actionable approaches to reducing gun violence, Crifasi said.


FACT: Nearly 70% of mass shootings involve domestic violence, Lisa Geller, MPH, state affairs advisor for the Center, told 12 News in Arizona

In a study published in 2021, Geller and colleagues found that in over 68% of mass shootings, the perpetrator killed at least one partner or family member and had a history of domestic violence. 

Restricting access to guns by people with a history of domestic violence could curb the occurrence of mass shootings and fatalities, the study suggested. 


FACT: “Most countries don’t have a problem with fatal mass shootings,” Webster told Fox News in LA. “Most countries do not have anywhere close to the rates of homicides that we do. It’s driven principally … because we have decided to make guns readily available to almost anyone, and our interests seem to be more in protecting those who sell weapons and want to own them as opposed to the broader public.” 


FACT: Data collected by researchers about mass shootings show discernible patterns and opportunities for intervention. The data also suggest that many of the ways we’re currently trying to prevent gun violence are wrong—but the good news is that we now have evidence-backed solutions to do better


FACT: “If firearms everywhere made us safer … we would be the safest place in the world,” Crifasi said in an episode of Public Health On Call

“We have more guns than people in this country, yet we are the only country that continues to experience exceptionally high rates of firearm homicide and fatal mass shootings occurring with regularity.” 


FACT: “Many Americans, including the majority of gun owners, support evidence-based policies,” Crifasi said during a recent briefing on gun violence solutions. 

Research has shown that most Americans support gun laws that include background checks, permits, and minimum age requirements. A law requiring gun purchasers to first get a license from law enforcement, for example, is supported by more than 75% of Americans, 63% of gun owners, and 70% of Republicans, Crifasi said.

“Many people agree that there are certain situations where it’s dangerous for an individual to have access to firearms. … Many Americans also recognize that there are spaces that are too sensitive for people to legally carry firearms,” Crifasi said. 

Lindsay Smith Rogers, MA, is the producer of the Public Health On Call podcast and the associate director of content strategy for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

National Mental Health Awareness Month

July is BIPOC Mental Health Month, formerly recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Inspired by the vision and advocacy of author Bebe Moore Campbell to educate and provide tools for the overall improvement of BIPOC Mental Health and well-being of individuals and communities of color. 

On June 2, 2008, a bipartisan and bicameral Congress recognized formally recognized the month of July as Bebe Moore Campbell National MinorityMental Health Awareness Month.

As we seek to provide education and tools for the overall betterment of BIPOC mental health, we must not ignore how and where this started: in the hands of a woman wanting a better experience for her child living with mental illness. July would not be dedicated to the mental health and well-being of individuals and communities of color if it were not for the tireless work of Bebe, her loved ones, and other mental health advocates who took on this work after she passed away in 2006.

Bebe Moore Campbell was a pioneer and an author, who used storytelling to give insight into the people that deserved more of a voice – Black women, caregivers of those with mental health conditions, Black individuals living with mental health conditions, and all people of color. Over the course of her life, Bebe took on several roles, including mother, activist, writer, daughter, commentator, friend, and teacher. Bebe’s legacy continues to inspire a national movement for mental health equity. The movement continues today as we focus on the creation of a health justice ecosystem grounded in effective care, universal compassion, cultural humility, and the use of appropriate mental health interventions instead of harmful criminal legal interventions.

A new analysis report from KFF found that suicide death rates increased by 12 percent in the decade from 2010 to 2020 — with death rates rising fastest among people of color, younger individuals, and people who live in rural areas. Among people of color, the highest increase in suicide death rates was among Black people (43% increase), followed by American Indian or Alaska Natives (41%), and Hispanic people (27%). As of 2020, American Indian and Alaska Native people had the highest suicide death rate, at 23.9 per 100,000 people – substantially higher than the rate for White people (16.8 per 100,000 people). Suicide death rates for Black, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander people were all less than half the rate for White people. In response to this crisis, on July 16, 2022, the Federal government will launch a newly mandated 988, which will be available to all landline and cellphone users. This three-digit number will provide access to over 200 local and state funded crisis hotline networks and centers. 988 callers experiencing Mental Health and/or Suicidal crises will be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline where they’ll receive access to a crisis counselor, receive counseling, referrals, resources, and in some cases, mobile crisis unit in areas where it is available. To learn more about this report and the new 988 number, click here.

Steps to Take During Baby Formula Shortage


There’s been a significant shortage of baby formula in the U.S. over the last year, in part due to COVID-19. But a recent bacterial contamination caused a recall that also greatly impacted these shortages, creating concern for parents trying to keep their kids fed. With the number of U.S. births increasing for the first time in seven years, finding food for our newborn children is crucially important.

Solutions for finding baby formula

There are ways you can improve your search for baby formula, especially if you’re unable to find any close to home. Here are some potential solutions that can help you locate what you need.

Search in less densely populated areas

Try pharmacies, mom-and-pop shops, food banks and smaller retailers to find the formula you’re looking for. Neighborhoods that are less densely populated or have fewer babies may have higher supply availability. It couldn’t hurt to make some phone calls to those areas or make some short road trips

Check in with your pediatrician’s office at West Oakland

If you’re not sure where to look for formula, you can always call your pediatrician’s office. They could point you in the right direction or tell you if they have any extra formula in stock.

When can you replace baby formula with solid food?

It’s recommended for babies to continue drinking breast milk or formula until they’re 1 year old. But babies as young as 4 months old can start to have solid foods in addition to formula.

Typically, pediatricians suggest introducing solid foods between 4 months and 6 months of age so your baby can develop tolerance to different tastes and textures. But if you’re going to introduce solid foods, your baby should be able to:

  • Hold their head up straight independently without the support of a chair.
  • Keep food in their mouths without spitting it out.
  • Roll their tongue back to swallow.

One important thing to note: Solid foods still aren’t as nutritional as most formulas.

National Men’s Health Month

African American man exercising in city park

June is National Men’s Health Month! This month is all about encouraging the men in your life (including you, men out there!) to take care of their bodies by eating right, exercising, and working to prevent disease. The official symbol for the month is a blue ribbon and the purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and depression.

What You Can Do

  1. Tweak your diet. Men’s Health Month is a great opportunity to change the way you eat. Cut back on alcohol this month or up your intake of healthy fermented foods like sauerkraut and kefir. You can do anything for a month, and if you do it for a month, you can do it for life!
  2. Set some goals. Use this month to take stock of your health now and think about where you want it to be. Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Simply eat more vegetables? Set small and achievable goals and work with your doctor to make them a reality.
  3. Get educated. Take this opportunity to read about the common health issues that are specific to men and how you can prevent yourself from getting hurt! Check out the CDC for information on health issues that men face.