Perinatal Care for Somali Families in Minnesota
This paper seeks to highlight a critical healthcare issue in Minnesota and to present a comprehensive program with which to address it. Immigration is often a contested issue, but few can argue that immigrants face a disproportionate amount of stresses, including navigating new gender roles, seeking employment, managing family responsibilities, overcoming discrimination, and learning a new language (Pavlish et al., 2010). Unfortunately, these stresses extend to challenges accessing appropriate healthcare: as Pavlish et al. (2010) succinctly stated, “Lack of access to culturally competent health care
is one of the most significant barriers to reducing health disparities for minority populations” (p. 354). In addition to the challenges presented by the language barrier, there are often conflicts between health care recommendations and religious beliefs or cultural values (McGraw & McDonald, 2004). Immigrants—particularly refugees—may also confront significant mental health challenges that may be overlooked. Many have experienced or witnessed war, starvation, oppression, or torture, and rates of PTSD and depression are extremely high in these populations (McGraw & McDonald, 2004).
Minnesota is no stranger to these challenges, particularly for immigrants from Somalia: The 1990s saw a large influx of Somalis in Minnesota, where more than half of all Somali refugees in the United States now reside (DeStephano et al., 2010). Of those, 80% live in the Twin Cities (Herrel et al., 2004). Somali refugees in our local community continue to experience the lack of comprehensive, culturally competent care that plagues our national healthcare system (Morrison et al., 2012). Of particular importance is perinatal care delivery: providing high-level perinatal care is imperative not only for the sake of the mothers’ health, but also to ensure that the next generation of Somali-Americans has the best start to life possible.
Professional paper for the fulfillment of the Master of Human Rights degree.
Lawler Turnbull, Catherine M.
Maternal Health is a Human Right: Identifying Gaps and Directions for Policy Improvement in Perinatal Care for Somali-Americans in Minnesota.
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