Health & Wellness

SFS has been a champion in addressing gaps in healthcare in the San Diego East African refugee community, frequently collaborating with other community stakeholders and residents. Despite over a decade of settlement in San Diego, until recently there was no data on the demographics and health status of the Somali community, making it difficult for community groups and health care providers to adequately address health needs and concerns. The lack of qualitative information about this population makes it more difficult to engage East Africans in existing health promotion programs. These programs are designed to convey key preventative health messages, such as the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, to a general population and so are typically linguistically inaccessible to most Somalis. Because such programs are “one size fits all,” they cannot be expected to address or serve the needs of a specific immigrant population, whose health issues must be addressed in terms of culture, as well as the physical and mental health ramifications of the refugee experience.

Fitness Walk as part of 2010 Health Fair - Courtesy of SFS

Our Health Services program is based on a comprehensive Health Needs Assessment of 150 Somali individuals, conducted by other Somali refugees, conducted in 2008 and funded through the California Endowment. This assessment allowed the direct involvement of the community in the program, a feature that distinguishes this program from similar needs assessment and health promotion programs. The surveys were completed in fall 2008, and the Institute for Public Health (IPH) at San Diego State University compiled and analyzed the data.

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