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.