Our Refugee Health Unit coordinated community participation in the UC San Diego Health Annual Global Women’s Health Grand Rounds: Women and Adolescent Health in San Diego Refugee and Immigrant Communities. Five panelists represented their respective communities in an interactive session: Rand Alubaidi, a Middle Eastern Refugees Specialist with Family Health Centers of San Diego; Jamat Suryan, Senior Prenatal Navigator at Global Communities; Hsihsa Thaw, Community Program Manager at the Karen Organization of San Diego; Josianne Valsaint, Community Health Worker at Haitian Bridge Alliance, Child Birth Educator and Lactation Consultant, and Prenatal Navigator with Global Communities; and Dr. Sarah Yousofzai, an Internal Medicine Graduate and OBYN.

Panelists shared their experiences working with refugee and immigrant communities from the Middle East, East Africa, Afghanistan, Burma, and Haiti. In a panel moderated by Dr. Jeanine Young, Professor of Pediatrics and Dr. Sarah Averbach, Associate Professor in the OBGYN and Reproductive Sciences Department, community experts discussed some of the common barriers that community members face when seeking clinical care.

One of the topics of discussion included addressing language barriers. Many women are forced to rely on family members or friends for interpretation, which can prevent them from discussing sensitive topics. This is especially true because there can be stigma around seeking certain kinds of care.

Women also don’t want to be seen by male providers and may avoid seeing a doctor if a female provider is not available. Additionally, panelists discussed the need for cultural humility and the need to spend time building rapport with patients and avoid making any assumptions. Panelists talked through some potential solutions and brought up the need for culturally relevant tailored education within the communities.

The session was hosted by the UCSD Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences’ Program for Global Reproductive Health and UCSD Division of Academic General Pediatrics.


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