Public Health Initiatives for Afghans

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NRC-RIM and our partners at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) are working with 10 local IRC offices across the country to support the healthcare needs of Afghan new arrivals. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is finalizing similar plans. 

Their initiatives range from healthcare navigation, mental health, women's health, digital literacy and more. They are working with their own local partners and local Afghan communities to ensure these initiatives meet the cultural, linguistic, and public health needs of new arrivals.

NRC-RIM intends to turn the work of many of these offices into toolkits so organization across the country can support Afghan communities that they serve. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know when they come out.

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Atlanta, GA - Healthcare navigation through home visitor model + community fairs

The Atlanta office is conducting home visits, including a health needs assessment to evaluate the types and levels of health services needed. The team will create referrals (both internal to IRC and to partner organizations) to meet clients’ health needs. After 30 days, the team will follow up with each client/family with a post-assessment. 

Denver, CO - Health education classes covering US healthcare navigation and maternal health

IRC Denver will be holding health education classes and they are onboarding volunteers who were former midwives and doulas to facilitate the women’s health classes. They are also exploring the idea of having a workshop focused on men’s health.

The team will also hold individualized classes around health navigation topics such as when to go to a primary care provider vs. an emergency room.

Oakland, CA - Support groups focused on promoting healthy relationships and strengthening families

IRC Oakland is implementing support groups to promote healthy relationships, taking a broad approach including healthy relationships with child, partners, community, classmates, etc. They are also creating sexual and reproductive health workshops with a focus on youth and unmarried adults, and healthy relationships workshops with a focus on domestic and gender-based violence as well as mental health. 

The team is also working to better understand recruitment for workshops (e.g. how to most effectively recruit, how to engage male clients in these types of workshops). 

Sacramento, CA - Wellness workshops, psychosocial support groups, and health + wellness fairs

IRC Sacramento is developing wellness workshops featuring guest speakers and different themes per workshop, psychosocial support groups where staff work with clients to create safe space for psychodynamic support sessions, and health and wellness fairs to promote healthy lifestyles, preventative care, and mental health and wellness

Salt Lake City, UT - Sexual and reproductive health classes and addressing clinical barriers to providing SRH care

IRC Salt Lake City is developing a health needs assessment with clients to better understand sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs and barriers to accessing SRH care. They will then create SRH education classes/ workshops based on results of needs assessment, primarily focusing family planning and access to contraception.

The team will also work with providers (health screening providers, OBGYNs) to understand the clinical barriers when it comes to SRH education.

San Diego, CA - Women’s health, including “dialogue with a doctor” sessions and maternal support groups

IRC San Diego will conduct a needs assessment to inform topics for Dialogue-with-a-Doctor Q&A sessions geared towards the Afghan community, and host a maternal support group with an ultimate goal of creating community connectedness and support.

Spokane, WA - Digital health literacy and healthcare access through mobile health clinics

IRC  Spokane will partner with health agencies to do mobile health clinics to ensure people are accessing services, and pair individuals or families with health navigators to discuss all the types of services/health care providers they might need to engage with. The health navigator will then provide advice on these types of services and how to engage digitally (doing remote check-ins, how to call to request an appointment, how to sign up for e-charts, etc.). The team also is in discussions about hosting basic computer literacy courses.

Tucson, AZ - Early childhood development and ensuring young children receive well-child visits and vaccinations

IRC Tucson will create and distribute early childhood development kits with age-appropriate toys, laminated step by step guidelines on how to engage with kids when using toys, and books in Dari and/or Pashto. They will also expand children's access to healthcare by helping parents schedule appointments and arranging transportation to and from appointment.
The team will then train local health department on the types of early childhood development services available.

Map of IRC offices working on Afghan health promotion projects
  • Atlanta
    Healthcare navigation through home visitor model & community fairs
  • Boise
    Public health apprenticeship pilot
  • Denver    
    Health passports (healthcare navigation); maternal & child health
  • Oakland
    Healthy relationships / strengthening families through caregiving support
  • Richmond
    Public health apprenticeship pilot
  • Sacramento
    Mental health & psychosocial support; public health apprenticeship pilot
  • Salt Lake City
    Sexual & reproductive health (especially family planning, contraception)
  • San Diego
    Women’s health including “dialogue with doctors” and a maternal support group
  • Spokane
    Digital health literacy and healthcare access through mobile health clinics 
  • Tucson
    Early childhood development & ensuring young children receive well-child visits and vaccinations