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This story originally appeared in the California Health Report.

Black Health Network Member Spotlight: Sahra Abdi

5 Feb 2024 2:16 PM | Jamila Jabulani (Administrator)

How long have you been a member of the Black Health Network, and what drew you to CBHN?
I have been a member of the Black Health Network for over a year.

What is your current profession?
Executive Director of United Women of East Africa.

From your perspective, what barriers exist in achieving health equity for Black Californians?
Black Californians encounter obstacles in accessing equitable healthcare comprehensively and address key issues related to healthcare disparities and cultural considerations. It emphasizes the importance of tackling unfair treatment, health disparities, and environmental concerns, particularly in mental health. The call for enhanced health education, improved regulations, and collaborative efforts is well-articulated. Additionally, highlighting the challenges of healthcare discrimination and cultural/language barriers further strengthens the message. Overall, the content effectively communicates the need for collective action to ensure better health outcomes for Black Californians.

Both in your work and with CBHN, how have you been able to prioritize the health of Black Californians?
At UWEAST, since 2008, we have played a significant role in promoting the health of East African communities, with a particular focus on women and youth. Our commitment extends from the grassroots level, where we actively engage with the community to raise awareness of health issues, with a special emphasis on mental health. Our diverse range of activities includes:

  • Engaging with the community through impactful outreach programs and educational initiatives to raise awareness about health issues, preventive measures, and available healthcare resources.
  • Ensuring that healthcare services are culturally competent and attuned to the unique needs of the East African community, addressing challenges and preferences in healthcare delivery.
  • Building meaningful partnerships with community organizations, local health departments, and other stakeholders to leverage resources and collectively address health disparities.
  • Working diligently to enhance access to affordable and quality healthcare services, implementing initiatives that specifically target barriers such as cultural and language differences.
  • Conducting thorough research and data collection to gain insights into specific health challenges within the East African community. This knowledge enables holistic-based interventions and policy advocacy.
  • Advocating for policies that tackle systemic issues contributing to health disparities, especially in mental health. This includes addressing social determinants of health, systemic racism, and economic inequalities.

Our commitment over the years reflects our dedication to fostering a healthier and more equitable future, particularly in enhancing the community's understanding of mental health.  

What inspires you to keep doing the work you do? What drives your ongoing efforts?

I find inspiration in the spiritual connection and being part of the community. The unwavering commitment, dedication, and profound sense of purpose driving UWEAST's mission are truly admirable. Their focus on fostering positive change in the health and well-being of East African communities, particularly women and youth, is both commendable and inspiring. The dedication to promoting health awareness, addressing disparities, fostering partnerships, and advocating for equitable policies, including spiritual content, is truly impressive. The passion for creating meaningful change reflects the core values of UWEAST. I am genuinely excited to witness our previous participants evolve into leaders guiding our youth.



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This story originally appeared in the California Health Report.

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