Arab Health Initiative

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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.

Immigrant Breast Health Access Program

The Immigrant Breast Health Access (IBHA) Program 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.

IBHA offers:

  • Arabic-language breast health workshops for women
  • Navigation into Mammography screening
  • Health information at community health fairs
  • Cultural competency training for healthcare professionals who work with Arab Americans
  • Assistance with health insurance enrollment
  • Case management for breast cancer patients

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

Colorectal Cancer Initiative

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

Our Research

The Arab Health Initiative is investigating barriers to cervical cancer screening and the human papilloma virus vaccination. We are assessing self-reported HPV vaccine recommendation practices among clinicians serving adolescent and young adult Arab American patients as well as adherence to standard HPV vaccination guidelines. We are also conducting a research project that aims to determine the adherence of Arab American women to HPV vaccination recommendations for their children,  and to cervical cancer screening recommendations for themselves.

In addition, the Arab Health initiative is collaborating with the University of Connecticut to test the feasibility and acceptability of a palliative and supportive care intervention, Meaning- Centered Supportive Care for Muslims (Masterful) with advanced cancer.

Contact Us

For more information about Arab Health Initiative program activities, please contact Claudia Ayash at ayashc@mskcc.org

For more information about our research, contact Bharat Narang at narangb@mskcc.org

  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.