Confronting Maternal Health Inequities with Seattle’s Immigrant & Refugee Communities

In South Seattle, HAI collaborated with community-led efforts to improve and adapt maternal reproductive and mental health care within East African immigrant and refugee communities.

Southeast Seattle reports the highest rates of preterm/low birthweight babies, cesarean births, women receiving inadequate perinatal care and unmet mental health needs in Washington state. HAI’s community partners, including the Somali Health Board, Parent Trust, Mama Amaan, and Neighborcare Health are building the evidence for culturally-adapted solutions to these inequitable health outcomes facing this underserved community, which includes much of Seattle and South King County’s East African immigrant and refugee population.

Starting in 2018, a University of Washington Population Health Initiative (UW PHI) grant brought together a collaboration of Somali researchers from the Somali Health Board, UW faculty from Anthropology, Global Health, Social Work, Pediatrics and Psychiatry, and HAI to pilot mother-to-mother perinatal groups and doula visits by Somali providers for Somali families. The Mama Amaan Project—meaning safe motherhood in Somali—employed a community-based and community-driven participatory research model to identify, test, and roll-out adapted interventions.

Starting in 2020, the Mama Amaan team proposed and was awarded additional funding from UW PHI to apply a similar approach aimed at reducing the burden of COVID-19 on mothers and families in these same communities. The Healing Heart and Soul feasibility study focused on homebased self-monitoring and self-reporting of blood pressure, stress, and depression in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 prevention measures, including reduced in-person clinical care.    




“We just wanted to create a space where Somali women could come to a place in [their] community and be with other women and laugh and talk.”



This video was produced by Kiyomi Taguchi for UW News.

Want to dig a little deeper?


[2020 – 2021] Healing Heart and Soul: Decreasing COVID-19 Perinatal Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities through Home-Based Maternal Self-Monitoring and Self-Reporting of Blood Pressure, Stress and Depression

This project received funding support from the University of Washington Population Health Initiative.

[2018 – 2019] Mama Ammaan (Safe Mother) Project: African Mother to Mother Antenatal Assistance Network

This project received funding support from the University of Washington Population Health Initiative.

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Our Mission

Our mission is to promote policies and support programs that strengthen government primary health care and foster social, economic, and health equity for all. Our vision is a just world that promotes health and well-being, including universal access to quality health care.

Our History

Health Alliance International began in 1987 as a US-based international solidarity organization committed to supporting the public sector provision of health care for all.  Over 35 years, HAI conducted programs in 17 countries, with flagship programs in Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, and Timor-Leste.

Our Evolution

In line with HAI’s commitment to support and strengthen local public health leadership, as of October 2021, HAI fully transitioned global operations and active programs to locally-based, locally-led NGOs. Learn more about this shift toward local autonomy and equity in global health.

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