Why communities in the Middle East and North Africa face barriers to healthcare

New study from the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center reveals that Middle Eastern and North African communities in the Detroit metro area face fear, discrimination, and other significant barriers that have an impact on their health.

The study shines the spotlight over 200,000 people from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other Arab countries.

“Our goal is really to make people feel welcome, to somehow help them access the services they really need to have a healthy life and build a healthy community,” said Madiha Tariq, MPH .

Tariq is the Deputy Director of the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center. When people come to the ACCESS clinic, it’s all about meeting their needs.

“It’s not just about a person with adverse health outcomes, it’s also about looking upstream to see what the reasons are behind them,” Tariq said.

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The recent University of Michigan study is important for examining the social factors that impact health. One big is the fear of deportation and another is discrimination – both prevent them from using the benefits available to them.

“It’s really happening because of the perceived discrimination, the fear of deportation, the mistrust of the government,” Tariq said. “These are the kinds of things that can really deter people from using the services available to them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The study questionnaire was distributed throughout the community at grocery stores, mosques and health clinics. 400 people responded.

About half did not believe the government was trying to improve the lives of Arab Americans.

“We generally found that this population faced more health risk factors – including food insecurity, unemployment, and unstable housing, so having more of these types of social risk factors was linked to more. chronic diseases, “said Dr. Minal R. Patel, MPH. “Including cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and heart disease. Mental health and general health were also worse for people with multiple societal conditions that limit optimal health. “

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ACCESS said that is why they act as a one-stop-shop to assess all the needs of the people they help.

“There were a lot of cases where someone came to see the doctor and then found out that person had been out of work for six months, and they didn’t even go to Michigan Works,” Tariq said. “We have had cases where people were in a dangerous situation at home. We have lawyers, therapists and social workers with our crime victims program in the same building who can help them on site. “

Tariq said much of the North African Middle Eastern community (MENA) is struggling financially.

Much of the problem is getting the right kind of help for the MENA community, which is not seen as a minority by federal agencies.

READ MORE: Stories from Arab-American Heritage Month

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