Staff and volunteers at an Umoja Health pop-up event in Oakland. Credit: Umoja Health

Bay Area residents looking to get vaccinated, undergo a health screening, or get more information about the pandemic and other health matters, can receive all of this and more at the second Umoja Health fair on Saturday, Oct. 1 in Oakland. This year’s fair will be held at the Lake Merritt Bandstand near Children’s Fairyland from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Attendees can access COVID vaccinations and PCR tests, and sign up for health insurance through Umoja Health partners. There will also be free colorectal cancer screenings available to residents who are 45 or older. 

Umoja Health is a non-profit organization founded in 2020 by Dr. Kim Rhoades of UCSF to help underserved communities of color who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 gain better access to health care. 

“The Umoja Health Fair brings access to critical community-based health resources to those who need it most but unfortunately are statistically least-likely to receive it,” said Rhoades in a statement.

“This is an important part of dealing with health disparities in our Black and brown communities,” Kevin Epps, the coordinator of Umoja Health Fair, told The Oaklandside. 

This fair is just one of the many projects that Umoja Health has undertaken to ensure Oakland’s most vulnerable have what they need to stay healthy. In 2020, Rhoades partnered with a handful of the city’s faith-based organizations and business owners to host a single mass COVID testing pop-up in an effort to catalog the virus’s impacts on Black residents. 

Since then, Umoja Health has continued to host health pop-up events in Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area. The organization plans to begin offering screenings for diabetes and prostate cancer next year.

“We’re focused on the health fair right now,” Epps said, “and we’re going to stay focused on showing up afterwards because it’s all about being consistent and reliable in these communities.” 

Ricky Rodas is a member of the 2020 graduating class of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Before joining The Oaklandside, he spent two years reporting on immigrant communities in the Bay Area as a reporter for the local news sites Oakland North, Mission Local, and Richmond Confidential. Rodas, who is Salvadoran American and bilingual, is on The Oaklandside team through a partnership with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.