The UK, hosts a large number of refugees from Somalia.
Somalis are absent from much of the official statistics largely because ‘Somali’ is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category. Therefore, when decisions are being made in relation to addressing the needs of recently arrived refugees the needs of those who originate from Somalia may be neglected.
Somalis are known to have a high level of need but low uptake of health care services. This included sexual health.
Earlier STIRF funded a project which looked at issues and problems relating to access for sexual health services. The project is now completed and is presented in a meeting held on:
Date: April 27
Venue: Birmingham City University
Time: 16.00 – 18.00
Meeting on Sexual Health needs of Somali Community
A workshop on philosophical aspects of sexual health is being held at
Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University Manchester, United Kingdom
The workshop is run by Dr Phil Hutchinson and was part funded by a research grant from Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Foundation (STIRF). Project STIRF-026
Workshop 1: The Problem of Selection Bias in Biomedical & Public Health Research. Wednesday September 16
Workshop 2: Shame, Stigma and HIV. Thursday September 17
Venue: Seminar Room 3.28, New Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
Mandatory registration: contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be obtained from Phil Hutchinson email@example.com
A new project funded by STIRF (STIRF-027) has just been completed.
Background: In the United Kingdom there is an established and growing refugee population from Somalia. Despite this Somalis have remained absent from much of the official statistics largely because ‘Somali’ is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category. Little is known about the sexual health needs of this particular community but in terms of their broader health issues, Somalis are known to have a high level of need but low uptake of health care services (Carswell et al.2011).
Aims: Through the use of focus groups and individual interviews this study sought to explore the sexual health needs of the local Somali community by ascertaining from their perspective, what they know about sexual health services, the challenges that may prevent them taking up these services and how services could be adapted to best meet their needs.
Results: The study showed little knowledge of services, especially about sexual health, how to accessing services, issues relating to shame, stigma and taboo, the influence of gender, religious and cultural norms, the perceptions of young people, the language barrier lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity demonstrated by healthcare professionals.
- Urgent attention be given to raising awareness, amongst the Somali community, about local sexual health services and how they can be accessed.
- Information about sexual health services be made available in a format that is accessible to the Somali refugee community, for example, via a CD, DVD or USB stick.
- That public health professionals and health care practitioners make clear the concept of preventative screening, making explicit the value of screening and early diagnosis for infectious diseases including TB and HIV/AIDS.
- Health practitioners and public health professionals exercise extreme sensitivity when discussing issues related to sexual health and well-being. Every effort must be made to gain the trust of the individual so that they are able to discuss their fears or concerns.
- Public health professionals and health care practitioners receive appropriate training and education so that they are equipped with the necessary cultural understanding and skills when working with the Somali community.
- That a proactive approach be taken to helping Somali refugees to attend a programme of induction that includes language classes.
- That a register of trained interpreters, who understand medical terminology and who are trained to work with those who may have experienced rape and torture should be available for public health professionals and health practitioners. Telephone interpretation should also be made available during consultations.
The results of the study have been presented in international meetings and published in reputable international journals.
Female sex workers (FSWs) are assumed to be at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Using routine STI surveillance data, McGrath-Lone et al in an article published in the latest issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections investigated differences in sexual health between FSWs and other female attendees at sexual health (genitourinary medicine – GUM) clinics in England.
They reported on 2704 FSWs visiting to 131/208 GUM clinics, (primarily large, FSW-specialist centres in London) in 2011. By comparison with other female attendees, FSWs travelled further for their care and had increased risk of certain STIs (eg, gonorrhoea Odds Ratio: 2.76, p<0.001). Significantly migrant FSWs had better sexual health outcomes than UK-born FSWs (eg, period prevalence of chlamydia among those tested: 8.5% vs 13.5%, p<0.001) but were more likely to experience non-STI outcomes (eg, pelvic inflammatory disease OR: 2.92, p<0.001).
They concluded that although FSWs in England have access to high-quality care through the GUM clinic network, there was evidence of geographical inequality in access to these services.
A minority do not appear to access STI/HIV testing through clinics, and some STIs are more prevalent among FSWs than other female attendees.
Targeted interventions aimed at improving uptake of testing in FSWs should be developed, and need to be culturally sensitive to the needs of this predominantly migrant population.
STIRF had agreed to fund a project by Steve Wordsworh and colleagues from the Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University investigating the reasons why Somali refugees appear not to access sexual heaalth services. Below is a brief description of the propsed project:
In the United Kingdom there is an established and growing refugee population that have arrived from Somalia. Despite this, the Somali population are often not included in ‘official’ statistics largely because the community is rarely recognised as a distinct ethnic category.
Because of this we often unaware of the health or social needs of those who arrive in the UK from a Somalia background, therefore it is inevitable that the support and needs of this community is often sadly neglected. So despite a very real need for help and support the uptake of health services is very low.
We are particular concerned with low access to sexual health service from of our local Somali community in Birmingham. So building on expertise in both working with the Somali community and in sexual health, staff from BCU are planning to undertake a study that seeks to explore just what exactly are the sexual health needs of Somali refugees, importantly we will be seeking to gather their views and perspectives directly from the community itself, we aim to found out what they know about sexual health services, the challenges that may prevent them taking up these services and how services could be adapted to best support their needs.
Furthermore, it is our intention that that results from this research can be used to inform service provision by identifying barriers to access and any opportunities that may help to overcome them.