Childhood lead poisoning in a Somali refugee resettlement community in New Hampshire



Despite the gradual decrease in childhood lead poisoning in the United States, the risk for lead poisoning among African refugee children who resettle in the United States remains elevated. Communication methods implemented by resettlement agencies in the public health system for preventing childhood lead poisoning in this at-risk population warrant further investigation. We utilized structured interviews with key stakeholders (resettlement agencies, social service agencies developed by African refugees and resettled Somali refugees) involved in the refugee resettlement process to (1) describe the agency's role in the refugee resettlement process; (2) examine communication methods utilized and barriers experienced by the public health system in reference to childhood lead poisoning; (3) describe the refugee population's perception of childhood lead poisoning; (4) examine general challenges experienced by the public health system and the refugee population during the resettlement process; and (5) describe stakeholders' recommendations to improve health communication efforts. Based on our findings, we propose that communities are important determinants in health-related problems for refugee populations. Each community has its own environment and public health system that interacts with each other to influence health risks and risk perceptions of its populations. We advocate that understanding a community's ecology and implementing a culture-centered approach is essential for the public health system to help educate and prevent communication inequalities and health disparities among an at-risk African refugee population. This action can reduce a population's resistance to communication and help build a community's capacity to address a persistent public health problem, such as childhood lead poisoning.


Health Management and Policy

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Journal of Community Health



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