Arab Health Initiative


New York City has the largest concentration of Arab Americans of any city in the United States. Nevertheless, Arab Americans living in New York City face a number of cultural and language barriers to obtaining cancer screening and treatment. (1)

The Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service’s Arab Health Initiative provides patient education in Arabic, helps patients access healthcare services, and conducts research to improve health outcomes among Arab Americans.

Arab American Breast Cancer Education and Referral Program

The Arab American Breast Cancer Education and Referral Program (AMBER) aims to increase awareness of breast cancer among Arab American women. (2) We partner with community-and faith-based organizations to deliver culturally sensitive education about breast cancer, and facilitate the uptake of cancer screening services. We also support women diagnosed with breast cancer by helping them access healthcare services, linking them to multidisciplinary resources, and providing psychosocial support.

AMBER offers:

  • Arabic-language breast health workshops for women
  • Mammography screening
  • Health information at community health fairs
  • Cultural competency training for healthcare professionals who work with Arab Americans
  • Breast cancer support services, facilitated by an Arabic-speaking clinical psychologist

AMBER collaborates with a variety of religious institutions and community-based organizations, including the Arab American Association of New York, Arab American Family Support Center, and Arab American Friendship Center.

Colorectal Cancer Initiative

The Colorectal Cancer Initiative, modeled after AMBER, provides Arabic-language education on colorectal cancer, and helps the community access screening services.

Our Research

The Arab Health Initiative is conducting a study in partnership with Wayne State University, Michigan to understand barriers to colorectal cancer screening among Arab Americans. AMBER is evaluating the impact of a culturally-tailored education and support program for Arab American women with breast cancer. We are collaborating with Ain Shams University Hospital, in Cairo, Egypt, to assess the needs of women with breast cancer to help them complete their treatment. We are also partnering with Yale University to better understand the spiritual beliefs and practices and to increase the acceptability of palliative care among Muslims with advanced cancer.

Contact Us

For more information about Arab Health Initiative program activities, please contact Claudia Ayash at

For more information about our research, contact Nicole Roberts at

  1. Shah S, Ayash C, Pharaon NA, Gany F. “Arab American immigrants in New York: health care and cancer knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.” J Immigr Minor Health. 2008 Oct;10(5):429-36.
  2. Ayash C, Axelrod D, Nejmeh-Khoury S, Yusr A, Gany F. “A Community Intervention: AMBER: Arab Americans breast cancer education and referral program.” J Immigr Minor Health. 2011Dec;(13)6:1041-7.
  3. Ayash C, Costas-Muñiz R, Badreddine D, Ramirez J, Gany F. An Investigation of Unmet Socio-economic Needs among Arab American Breast Cancer Patients Compared with other Immigrant and Migrant Patients. J Community Health. 2017 Jul 1.