Somali events show how partner groups are reaching communities

Health promoters from Global to Local teamed up with the Somali Health Board to host two insurance enrollment events last month in one of Washington’s largest Somali communities. The efforts are examples of how King County’s network is reaching out to residents in their own communities — where they live and work (and in this case, pray) in their everyday lives.

Signing up for insurance can be confusing enough, without cultural or linguistic barriers. The Affordable Care Act offers huge health opportunities for people, along with a mandate — for everyone to purchase insurance.

Sign-Free screening and obamacare

A flyer at the Abubakr Mosque in Tukwila announces “health fair” event.

At one “health fair” event, held at the Abubakr Mosque in Tukwila on a Saturday in October, health specialists provided free consultations for community members – including the Mosque’s resident Imam, who was filmed getting a flu shot. Eight previously uninsured Somali families enrolled for coverage through Washington Healthpanfinder.

A second event the following Tuesday allowed more families and community members to enroll in health care coverage.

Somali women signing up for health coverage at the Abubakr Mosque in Tukwila

Somali women enrolling in health care coverage with assistance from Global to Local.

It is especially helpful to work with trusted leaders of ethnic communities that have traditionally different approaches to health care, like many Somali immigrants do. The “health fair” was a successful example of this approach, as the Abubakr Mosque’s Imam helped promote the event during prayer services. According to the Somali Health Board, many attending families had no prior knowledge of where to bring enrollment documents, amongst other obstacles.

Working with partner organizations like Global to Local and the Somali Health Board helps bridge cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic barriers. The goal is to ensure all people have access to the information and assistance they need to sign up for health coverage.

Both events were coordinated by Global to Local, one of King County’s 23 partner groups with trained In-Person Assisters. Global to Local is an initiative to bring basic health care to socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in south King County communities such as SeaTac and Tukwila.

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