Master's Project Title:

Developing Culturally Specific Outreach, Assessment and Evaluation Tools for WellShare International’s Somali Child Spacing Program

MCH Student:

Hilary Hilsabeck

Date of Defense:

May 12, 2015


Intro:  The continuous fighting in Somalia, along with a government collapse and famine, has  displaced millions of Somalis who have sought refuge in neighboring countries and the United  States. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. Islam p lays an important  role in every aspect of Somali culture and dictates women’s roles. Women are encouraged to  reproduce and children are seen as a “gift from Allah.” One of the biggest issues Somali refugees  face in the U.S. is the difference in approach to health and the overarching health care system.  There is a large disconnect between Western health care providers and Somali patients, resulting  in distrust of Western medicine and reproductive health care. Additionally, Somalis come from a  country where health services, including those regarding family planning, have been practically  non – existent. By employing the community health worker (CHW) model, WellShare  International used feedback from the Somali community to design a Somali Child Spacing  Program to help educate men and women on their family planning options and to ensure the  information was culturally specific and appropriate.

Methods:  The objectives of this project were to create tools in three categories: outreach,  assessment and evaluation – to aid in WellShare’s current programmatic efforts of improving and  measuring reproductive health care knowledge and behavior in the Somali community. Research  was conducted on current contraceptive options, new advancements in reproductive healthcare  and public health guidelines. This literature, along with conversations with CHWs, guided the  development of this project. Consistent status meetings were conducted at WellShare to include  program staff in the process and development of materials. All products,  except the databases,  were translated to the Somali language.

Results: The comprehensive program included: three outreach forms and corresponding  databases, a separate men’s and women’s pre/post test, a monitoring and evaluation database,  training materials, a Child Spacing Methods Chart, and a clinic referral list for Minneapolis and  St. Paul reproductive health clinics with Somali interpretation services. Each of the products  corresponded to at least one of WellShare’s program objectives. The databases purpose was to  store, track and evaluate the data.

Recommendations:  The recommendations should be used to nurture and enhance the Somali  Child Spacing Program to better serve the Somali community and improve maternal health in  this population. The recommendations are organized into categories: 1) Involvement of CHWs;  2) Periodic revision and evaluation of project materials; and 3) Education and trainings for  CHWs and health care providers.