Tens of thousands of Afghans have been resettled to the United States after the Taliban took control of Kabul in 2021. Resettlement agencies, federal partners, healthcare systems, public health professionals, social service providers, and community-based organizations are working hard to support Afghan communities. One important aspect of resettlement is addressing the public health needs of communities in a culturally appropriate way.
Fortunately, there are many examples of strategies, approaches, and programs that have shown to have a positive impact in local settings that could serve as a model for others. In partnership with our partners and through interviews with organizations and community leaders across the country, NRC-RIM has developed a collection of promising practices related to Afghan health promotion. This collection is intended to highlight culturally appropriate programs and to inspire other organizations to consider similar approaches.
Patient Navigators to Support Afghan Newcomers
The importance of public health roles that directly partner with refugee, immigrant, migrant, and newcomer communities to navigate complex health systems was highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforced in the welcoming of people from Afghanistan. Linguistically and culturally concordant public health professionals advocate and coordinate across different parts of the health system and/or social services in partnership with communities.
Welcoming and Supporting Unaccompanied Refugee Minors from Afghanistan
In the aftermath of the Taliban's takeover in Kabul, Afghan refugees found solace in the United States through Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) and Operation Enduring Welcome (OEW). A significant focus has been on unaccompanied Afghan youth who arrived without parents and required specialized support.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) spearheads efforts to aid these minors, offering services like cultural adjustment assistance, healthcare navigation, legal aid, and independent living skills coaching.
Wildfires and Smoke: Mental Health Impact and Coping Strategies
As wildfires become more common across North America, it is important for organizations that partner with Afghan newcomer communities to provide clear information about how to avoid the harmful effects of wildfire smoke and how to stay safe from fires. It is also essential to acknowledge that wildfires and smoke may affect mental and emotional well-being among resettled Afghans.
Programs for Resettled Afghan Youth
Afghan youth–children, adolescents, and young adults under 25 years of age–experience similar challenges as older adults during the resettlement process. Youth-centered programs have the potential to support young Afghans in their personal growth and encourage their successful integration into new communities, schools, and workplaces.
Culturally Responsive Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Care
This promising practice showcases the importance of a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE), with specialized training in identifying and addressing the medical needs of individuals who have experienced sexual violence. The overarching goal of SANE services is establishing a balance between a systematic and comprehensive health assessment and honoring and supporting the patient's agency, dignity, and cultural/linguistic traditions.
Cultural Training Strategies for New Welcome Corps Resettlement Initiative
Communities seeking to support newly arrived Afghans and other newcomers need to be equipped not only with the U.S. systems navigation skills necessary to support these populations but also robust cultural humility and competency
Halal Meals and Culturally Appropriate Welcome Kits
One notable public health challenge that Afghan newcomers may face during and after resettlement is access to culturally and religiously appropriate meals, food pantries, and necessities. Many Afghan newcomers follow a halal diet.The Oklahoma Chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma (CAIR Oklahoma) is addressing post-resettlement food insecurity among newcomers in Oklahoma City.
Education and Prevention to Reduce Lead Exposure Among Afghan Arrivals
One notable public health challenge that Afghan newcomers face before and after resettlement is exposure to lead and the risk of lead poisoning. Seattle and King County Public Health (SKCPH) has been partnering with Afghan Health Initiative (AHI) to prevent childhood lead poisoning in King County, Washington. Their efforts include home visits and a pressure cooker exchange program.
Mental Health and Social Support Programming for Afghan Newcomers
Recently resettled Afghans are adjusting to their new lives while contributing to their communities, securing public benefits, and pursuing opportunities for youth and adults. An important part of Afghans’ resettlement process is understanding and addressing mental health and social support needs. Culturally appropriate mental health and social support programming empowers Afghan newcomers to cope with challenges, rebuild their lives, and thrive in their new homes.
Orienting Afghan Newcomers to Prenatal Care and Delivery in the United States
HealthPoint is a network of non-profit community-based health centers in Washington state that provides care to many communities, including newcomers from Afghanistan. Learn how the CenteringPregnancy model for prenatal care has helped provide health education and social connection for Afghan newcomers adjusting to life in the United States.
Vaccine Listening Sessions
The Afghan Health Initiative partnered with a health department to host community listening sessions to receive input from the Afghan community about the COVID-19 vaccine. The listening sessions were held via Zoom and Farsi, Dari and Pashto interpretations were made available.
Bridging Faith and Health: Effective Strategies for COVID–19 Mitigation in Muslim Faith Communities
Faith-based approaches to health interventions, particularly involving mosques and including religious leaders, have proven to be instrumental in reaching and positively impacting Muslim communities in the context of COVID-19 mitigation.
Bringing Vaccines Directly to Afghan Communities
The Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) in New York state worked to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in local refugee and immigrant communities using a pop-up clinic model that featured community engagement, effective communication, and convenient care. ECDOH partnered with trusted Afghan community health workers to provide accurate health information in Dari, Pashto and English.