New national curriculum provides access to multilingual health education

During the early stages of the pandemic, those who died of COVID-19 and were born overseas had an age-standardized death rate that was 2.5 times higher than those born in Australia. And among the foreign-born, the rate was particularly high for those born in North Africa and the Middle East.

What is causing this disparity in Covid-19 deaths? New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals that for migrant and refugee communities, limited access to health information in the language and culturally appropriate is a important factor.

The report, Australia Health 2022found that migrant and refugee communities are among several population groups at greater risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19 than the general population due to barriers such as language difficulties, cost of care, lack of culturally appropriate information and unfamiliarity with Australia. health care system.

As one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world, this latest evidence highlights the critical need for health education programs tailored to migrant and refugee communities in Australia.

Intervening to provide this vital resource is The Multicultural Center for Women’s Health (MCWH), a Melbourne-based non-profit organization and the only women’s health service run by migrant and refugee women in Victoria. Their latest program Health in my languageaims to improve knowledge of vaccines, increase confidence in vaccines, and reduce barriers to navigating the immunization system.

MCWH Workplace Health Education Session

MCWH National Program Manager Dr Regina Torres-Quiazon doesn’t think the report’s latest evidence should be viewed as a mere ‘migrant’ issue. She says, “The latest census shows that we [migrants] now represent 51% of the population – we must recognize that this points to a structural problem rooted in our health systems. »

Health in My Language is a national health education program that provides accurate, multilingual information from trusted professional health educators across Australia.

The program operates in all Australian states and territories and is free to migrant and refugee communities with funding up to December 2022 from the Commonwealth Government. MCWH coordinates a team of 44 bilingual health educators trained to deliver health education in over 20 languages/dialects.

MCWH Community Health Education Session

“We know from our long experience of working with migrant communities that many of these deaths could have been prevented with culturally appropriate information and education in the language delivered by health educators who recognize that experiences of racism and discrimination in our healthcare system can be equally detrimental to health,” said Dr. Torres-Quiazon.

“The Health in My Language project, with the deployment of a bilingual workforce trained in health education for COVID-19 vaccination, can literally save lives.”


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