New volunteer health council to help foreign-born North Dakotans / Public News Service

The foreign born population of North Dakota is only 3.9%, but has experienced strong growth over the past decade.  (Adobe Stock)

The foreign born population of North Dakota is only 3.9%, but has experienced strong growth over the past decade. (Adobe Stock)

June 25, 2020

BISMARCK, ND – As the population of North Dakota becomes more diverse, state health officials are seeking advice on how to better serve people from other countries.

A new sign aims to help fill the gaps. This week, the New American advisory board / foreign born / immigrant held its first meeting.

The board of directors is made up of 40 volunteers from diverse backgrounds who will provide input to the North Dakota Department of Health and help resolve access issues.

For example, according to Krissie Guerard, director of health equity in North Dakota, this could involve educating the immigrant community about vaccination rates. The group or person raising the concern can go to the council for help.

“Whether it’s messaging, establishing contacts, ensuring we do things in a culturally appropriate way for this group,” said Guerard.

From 2010 to 2016, the foreign born population of North Dakota increased by 48%. Experts warn that the peak seems significant due to the state’s small immigrant population before this period, but proponents of the initiative say it is still essential to raise awareness in these communities.

Guerard said that because of the pandemic, the state should in fact speed up the establishment of the advisory council to service these communities.

As she said, “Because of all the needs that existed in these communities and some of the barriers to reaching them, this made us speed up the creation of this council a little more.”

She added that the health department was launching a similar effort for the state’s Native American population.

Mike Moen, Public News Service – ND

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