Online Program

Building a Partnership for Community Health in an Underserved Neighborhood in Beirut

Monday, November 2, 2015

Lara Jirmanus, MD, MPH, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Jinan Usta, MD, MPH, Department of Family Medicine, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon
Family physicians and academic researchers partnered with a community-based organization (CBO), which operates a school and family clinic in an underserved Beirut neighborhood, to design a community health worker program to address local health problems.  Community health priorities were identified during discussions between the CBO and academic partners.  A qualitative study was designed to explore health beliefs and practices regarding important needs (childhood illness and family planning) and local attitudes towards community health workers.  Prior to the initiation of the study, women living in the neighborhood were recruited to join a Community Advisory Board (CAB) and solicited for their input regarding neighborhood health priorities. Physicians in the clinic and academic partners focused primarily on medical diagnoses, such as acute childhood illnesses, which generate over 70% of clinic visits. Meanwhile, CAB members emphasized environmental factors, such as poor housing, lack of clean water, and improper sewage and trash disposal, which they identified as causes of childhood illness.  Through recognizing neighborhood women as experts of their own circumstances, the project empowered the local population and enabled the design of a health program tailored to needs identified by the community. By bringing together a diverse population of Lebanese, Lebanese Dom (the Middle Eastern Roma), and Syrian refugees in a collaborative process, the project also aims to diffuse social tensions and increase social cohesion.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe the collaborative research process between a community-based organization and local and international academic partners Identify effective techniques for engagement and empowerment of members of a marginalized community Discuss the lessons for community health programs and implications for the sustainable solutions to the Syrian refugee crisis

Keyword(s): Underserved Populations, Community-Based Research (CBPR)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-investigator of this study through which a partnership was created with local women in the neighborhood of a clinic run by a community-based organization in an underserved neighborhood in Beirut. Previously, I served as Chief Resident in the Department of Family Medicine at the American University of Beirut. During this time, I supervised family medicine residents caring for patients at the NGO where this study is based.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.