Opening the Door to Health Programs for Marginalized Women
A single mother with two children living on an annual income of $12,000 is used to putting their own needs last. And if they are an immigrant or woman of color, it’s likely they face additional barriers to taking care of their own health, including transportation, language and cultural factors.
This is the typical client Zaman International serves in Southeast Michigan: women facing crisis after crisis – often working through divorce, abuse, physical and mental illnesses, disability or abandonment while taking care of their family. Since 2010, the organization has helped women and children meet their basic needs, as well as provide vocational training, education and literacy assistance. Zaman is planning to further open its doors for women by starting an on-site health clinic at its Inkster facility.
“The mother is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty,” said Zaman International Founder and CEO Najah Bazzy. “We want to give every person an opportunity to stand on their two feet and support their family.”
For Bazzy, a transcultural clinical nurse specialist, the missing piece at Zaman has been health education and health care for its clients – up until now.
Thanks in part to a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Zaman International has begun physical and mental health education programming at its Inkster facility. The grant funds the Healthier Me Preventative Health Initiative, which addresses the health disparities experienced by immigrant and refugee women and women that are racial and ethnic minorities.
“When I think of a woman who is the foundation to her family, she too often puts herself second,” said Maya Mortada, certified pediatric nurse practitioner and director of health services at Zaman International. “We want to make sure that mother, that woman, is strong in every aspect of her life. When her health is addressed, I think that person will feel empowered in other parts of her life.”
Healthier Me Preventative Health Initiative programming empowers women through the inclusion of chronic disease self-management and mental health peer support. Clients will have time to learn about how to manage their chronic conditions from a trained professional in an environment that is culturally and spiritually sensitive. The health programs are offered at no costs to the client.
Studies have shown educating patients about their chronic disease can improve their outcomes by increasing their willingness and capacity to self-manage their care.
“Marginalized groups have the highest risks of poor health outcomes from chronic diseases,” said Audrey Harvey, executive director and CEO of the BCBSM Foundation. “The BCBSM Foundation is proud to support programs like the Healthier Me Preventative Health Initiative at Zaman that empower women with resources to take care of their mental and physical health, so they are able to build the life they want for themselves and their families.”
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Photo credit: Courtesy of Zaman International