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The Dearborn Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced a $100,000 grant award from The DMC Foundation to conduct Dearborn’s first-ever community health needs assessment. These assessments, known as CHNAs in the public health world, are essential for identifying health challenges and ensuring health policies respond to specific needs.

Dearborn Director of Public Health Ali Abazeed stated, “When we launched this department, we pledged to be at the cutting edge of municipal public health practice, working innovatively to promote the health and wellbeing of Dearborn residents. Today’s announcement is fundamentally about community. It further demonstrates why investing in public health can be a democratizing force that allows those who know their community best to drive the solutions.”

Dearborn faces incredibly unique challenges in health policy given the status of Arab Americans, who are not recognized in federal data collection. This needs assessment allows Dearborn, home to the largest concentration of Arab people in the United States, to pioneer data practices that address this lack of recognition, according to Abazeed. The CHNA is also a key pillar of adopting an evidence-based approach to city policies.

“We’re grateful to our friends at The DMC Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for both recognizing a need and being visionary and cutting edge in their approach to solutions,” he added.

The DMC Foundation is dedicated to promoting the welfare of the general public in the metropolitan Detroit area through the support of health-related research, education, and activities that benefit the community. The DMC Foundation is a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

“There’s no playbook on establishing a public health department,” Abazeed said. “The City of Dearborn is establishing that playbook by redefining expertise to include the experiences and perspectives of people on the ground. The CHNA gives residents a central voice in setting the local health policy agenda.”

Dearborn DPH Fellows Najoie Zahr, Jenna Chami, and Amira Haidar, who supported this effort, stated, “The purpose of a needs assessment is to paint a clear and robust picture of the health needs of Dearborn residents. This effort will also establish the data architecture needed to access federal dollars from which the City of Dearborn has historically been excluded. We’re eager to roll this out and build a strong foundation for future health interventions.”

The Dearborn Department of Public Health was launched in April 2022 to “be a leader in advancing population health and health equity,” according to Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud, and is just the second city in Michigan with a health department. Hammoud added, “We initiated this experiment in localized public health because we believe our residents deserve to be partners in governance. This is about pooling our collective insights to improve public health.”

For more information, follow DPH on social media: @dearborndph on all platforms.

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Photo caption: Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud (left) and Inaugural Director of Public Health Ali Abazeed (right). Photo courtesy of Dearborn Department of Communications.

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