Part III – Arab Americans in health: How do we get involved?

Part III – Arab Americans in health: How do we get involved?

  Part III in a 3-part series on Arab-American health and national engagement. By Serena Rasoul, Amira Mouna, and Reem Ghoneim The first article in our series, ‘Why are we missing?’, discussed the absence of Arab-American health data in the national dialogue on minority health and the repercussions of not being represented. The second article , ‘Why are we important?’, explored how our unique social determinants of health affect our health outcomes and, consequently, the diseases that we disproportionately suffer from- highlighting the need for specialized representation and targeted programming for Arab-Americans both on  the federal and state levels. Here, in the last article of our series, we will outline steps community leaders can take to ensure Arab-Americans are represented in national conversations, policies, and minority health initiatives. These steps are targeted towards members and leaders of the Arab-American health community, as well as those outside of the community that shape and advocate for minority health on a national level. Step 1: Identify Stakeholders The initial step to developing comprehensive representation of the community is to identify stakeholders, both within and outside of the Arab-American community, that are actively engaged in shaping health policies on all levels, from grassroots leaders to legislatures. Within the community, it is important to partner with established community organizations (health related or otherwise) and their leaders to participate in the conversation and leverage their influence for outreach activities. Additionally, as we pointed out in article 2, many of the health determinants of Arab-Americans are influenced by cultural and religious norms. Thus, approaching religious institutions and leaders would also be advantageous to gain a grassroots...

Part II – Arab Americans in health: Why are we important?

  Part II in a 3-part series on Arab-American health and national engagement. By Reem Ghoneim, Serena Rasoul, and Amira Mouna The first article in our series explored the absence of Arab-American health data in the national dialogue on minority health due to a lack of a minority status designation.  In this article, we will define the importance of differentiating Arab-Americans from the general population and other minority groups, focusing primarily on conditions and health behaviors that affect our community. There are several contributing factors, or health determinants, that separate the needs of Arab-Americans from the general population. Part I in our series mentioned the major social determinants that affect this population’s ability to access services, including, but not limited to: recent immigration, the effects of cultural and religious behavioral norms, and marginalization of the community due to increased media attention. These factors, along with others (see Table 1), make Arab-Americans an at-risk population for health disparities, requiring targeted attention outside of the general population. Specifically, Arab-American immigrants and subsequent generations are at-risk for health conditions like PTSD or hypertension due to trauma associated with immigration, acculturation, loss of social support, and limited knowledge of the complex US health system.[1]  “They lack the knowledge that is needed to prevent, detect, and treat diseases. This population faces many barriers to accessing the American health care system. Some barriers, such as modesty, gender preference [2], and illness causation misconceptions, arise out of cultural beliefs and practices. Other barriers are related to the complexity of the health care system and the lack of culturally competent services,”[3] writes Odeh Yosef in the Journal...
Part I: Arab Americans in health: why are we missing?

Part I: Arab Americans in health: why are we missing?

  Part 1 in a 3-part series on Arab-American health and national engagement. by Amira Mouna, Serena Rasoul and Reem Ghoneim, Guest Contributors As the United States attempts to implement the first health care overhaul bill in decades – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – minority health groups nationwide are gearing up to use this opportunity to address their communities’ health disparities. My colleagues and I were no different until we attempted to obtain national health disparity information on Arab-Americans; similar to what exists on the South Asian or East Asian communities within the US. What we found was alarming: although Arab-Americans are an underserved health population, they are not included in the national dialogue on minority health. In fact, the ACA recently implemented an initiative to improve data collection and quality on minority populations in the United States, but it did not include Arabs or Arab-Americans as a racial or ethnic group on the new Data Standards form.[1] Additionally, a recent search using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) website yielded zero results for multiple terms pertaining to Arab-Americans. The same was found across several other government agencies, research institutions, and national minority health initiatives. But with a population estimated over 3.5 million and growing every day, why are Arab-Americans missing?[2] The answer is complex, but one contributing factor may be due to the lack of a designation of Arabs or Arab-Americans as a minority group on the US Census or CDC National Center for Health Statistics forms. Having a distinct minority status is vital for research opportunities, funding allocation, grants...
Drug Abuse in the Gulf

Drug Abuse in the Gulf

  On the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2014, Sara Al Lamki looks at the challenges and progress made on drug abuse in the Gulf. Is awareness enough? In the last 4 years there has been a growing storm of media attention on the rising drug problem in the Arab region, and especially the Gulf States. Newspapers, television talk shows, blogs and social media have been consistently discussing and reporting figures, speculation and interviews. However, the lack of data and studies means this coverage only skims the surface; they acknowledge the existence of a drug problem, but cannot address the extent of it, or the ways to tackle it. Indeed, the lack of data makes the extent of the problem difficult to understand, and as a consequence, the mindset that has been adopted in confronting the issue is is not necessarily effective. There seems to be a discourse, both implied and openly stated, that focuses blame on external causes – “importing” the drug problem, “guard[ing] against entry” of western drugs, international drug mafias – thus diluting the crux of the issue. There is no doubt that public awareness is an integral part of tackling the region’s drug addiction, especially for addressing stigma and social discrimination of addicts or users, however without research and evidence-based prevention programmes, there cannot be an understanding of the root causes and solutions. What do we know? Oil wealth and migrant workers may contribute to the ease of access and availability of narcotics in the region, but these are not the only contributors. Rapid population growth, a large youth segment, and population diversity are...
الصحة العالمية في الشرق الأوسط

الصحة العالمية في الشرق الأوسط

في هذا الجزء، وهو الأول من سلسلةٍ تستكشف مدى التطور في مجال “الصحة العالمية” في الشرق الأوسط، تقوم “مريم باقر” بتفحص الأسباب لغياب المنطقة العربية عن أدبيات “الصحة العالمية”، وتوضح مسوغات التركيز على هذه المنطقة. (ترجمتها للعربية: زينة المحايري) البقعة العمياء..جغرافياً نادراً ما تجتمع عبارة “الصحة العالمية” مع “الشرق الأوسط” أو “العرب” في جملةٍ واحدة ! حتى أن إجراء بحث بهذه العبارات على محرك البحث Google سيفضي إلى مجموعة مواقع مؤسسية نادراً ما تتم زيارتها، وربما مرّت عليها عدة سنوات دونما تحديث، إضافةً إلى مواقع وزارات الصحة في المنطقة والتي تكون (إلا في استثناءاتٍ قليلة) مبهمةً ومعقدةً على المستخدم. وكمختصةٍ عربية بالصحة العالمية، يشكل لي وقوع المنطقة في هذه البقعة العمياء أمراً مربكاً وليس له مبرر. فلو أخذنا  بعين الاعتبار ما تحظى به المنطقة من اهتمام على صعيد السياسة الخارجية، فإنها ستكون على الأقل مرشحةً للعمل الدبلوماسي في مجال الصحة العالمية ! أم هل أن التغطية الإعلامية وما تحمله من مناظر دموية مستمرة من المنطقة شكلت حاجزاً حدد النظرة العالمية تجاه الشرق الأوسط؟ قصة جائحتين.. أثناء العام 2013 أدى الصراع المتفاقم في سوريا إلى عودة ظهور شلل الأطفال محلياً، الأمر الذي قاد إلى حملة تلقيح مكثفة للأطفال داخل سوريا وفي الدول المجاورة. وفي حين ساهم هذا الأمر في إعادة توجيه الأنظار إلى الأزمة، فإن المؤشرات على قرب وقوع فاجعةٍ صحية عامّة كانت قد سبقت ذلك بعدة أشهر، غير أنها لم تلق حينها آذاناً صاغية (راجع Adam Coutts & Annie Sparrow ) وفي العام المنصرم تنامت المخاوف من احتمال انتشار متلازمة الشرق الأوسط التنفسية (MERS) أثناء موسم الحج السنوي، أكبر تجمع بشري ضخم في العالم. وعلى الرغم من عدم وقوع وباء MERS المتوقع، فإن انتقادات كبيرة وُجهت للمملكة العربية السعودية بخصوص استجابتها وتسجيلها...
The Arab world in global health – a missing piece

The Arab world in global health – a missing piece

Part 1 in a series exploring global health in the Middle East, Mariam Bhacker examines the absence of the Arab world in international global health discourse, and makes a case for why the region warrants increased attention. A geographical blind spot It is not often you hear the phrases ‘global health’ and, ‘Arab’ or ‘Middle East’ in the same sentence. A Google search of the terms brings up institutional websites that are sparsely populated and several years out of date, and (with rare exceptions) the websites of regional Ministries of Health are notoriously uninformative and user unfriendly. As an Arab global health professional, this geographic blind spot is both perplexing and unfounded. Given the attention the region receives in terms of foreign policy, surely it would at least be a prime candidate for global health diplomacy? Or has the constant, bloody upheaval that dominates media coverage of the region become a barrier limiting international perspective on the Middle East? A tale of two outbreaks In 2013, the ever-worsening conflict in Syria led to the national re-emergence of polio, driving a massive campaign to vaccinate children within Syria and neighbouring countries. While this served to redirect international attention to the crisis, warning signs of an unfolding public health tragedy were there months in advance – see Adam Coutts and Annie Sparrow – went largely unheeded. Also last year, concern heightened around the potential spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) during the annual Hajj – the largest mass gathering of people in the world. The anticipated MERS pandemic didn’t materialise, however significant criticism has been leveled at Saudi Arabia’s case reporting...