Somalis in Minnesota, especially Somali women, face huge inequality in access to health services and culturally competent and compassionate care. The high rates of poverty in the Somali community exacerbate these issues and contribute to health disparities. According to the 2010 study entitled Disparities and Barriers to Utilization among Minnesota Health Care Program Enrollees, 40% of Somali women do not know where they can get their health questions answered, and 20% do not know where to go for health care. Furthermore, 61% of Somali households and 70% of Somali female-headed households live in poverty. Other significant obstacles include language, lack of understanding of Somali culture and religion, and lack of tailored programs to address their specific needs.
These inequalities in access and appropriate care affect all minorities living in Minnesota. Minnesota ranks among the top states for health, but at the same time Minnesota is home to some of the greatest health disparities for minorities. We believe that all Black women living in Minnesota deserve culturally competent, accessible care. That’s why we are pushing for the creation of a Minnesota Black Women’s Health Fund, a dedicated trust that will fund projects to address the inequalities faced by Black women in Minnesota. We are asking that Governor Mark Dayton take the steps to create this fund within a year.