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MNAAP Newsletter

Opening Vaccine Dialogue Across Cultures: Measles Outbreak in Minnesota

nusheen ameenudinBy Nusheen Ameenuddin, MD, FAAP

“Most of you already know Dr. Nusheen, because she sees your kids” is how I was introduced on my home turf at the first of a series of talks with Minnesota’s Somali community. It was during our state’s worst measles outbreak to date.

By the week before Memorial Day this year, Minnesota had already reached 69 measles cases, more than all U.S. cases in the previous year. Because the outbreak primarily affected unvaccinated Somali children, our state health department, American Academy of Pediatrics chapter and others partnered with leaders in the Somali community to train and dispatch teams of imams (religious leaders) and physicians to engage and inform the community about this threat.

I feel privileged to work with a vibrant patient population that includes many Somali-Americans. I met some families as new arrivals to this country, while others have become my second generation of patients. We are fortunate that Minnesota’s children’s health insurance coverage is at an all-time high of 97 percent, thanks to Medicaid and CHIP. But despite having some of the best health measures in the nation, we still struggle with the highest disparity in health outcomes between ethnic groups.

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AAP Legislative Conference 2017


nusheen ameenudinBy Nusheen Ameenuddin, MD, MPH, FAAP

“Hope is not a strategy…We will never, ever, ever stop advocating for kids!” said Mark Del Monte, senior vice president of advocacy and external affairs at AAP.

Those words energized the over 220 pediatricians who participated in the April 2017 AAP Legislative Conference in D.C and kicked off an intense, invigorating three days of nonstop advocacy training and application.

Now in its 26th year, with nearly double the prior year’s attendance plus a sizeable waiting list, this conference combined informative briefings, a Congressional staff simulation, skill-building workshops and culminated in actual meetings with attendees’ members of Congress or staff, followed by a group debriefing session.

As a first time #AAPLegCon attendee, who had also just participated in my first Minnesota Peds’ Day at the Capitol in March, I couldn’t wait to combine what I had learned about state-level advocacy with national work. Both events focused on protecting access to care for children, with Leg Con aiming for reauthorization of CHIP and ensuring that Medicaid remained strong, uncut and uncapped. At the state level, we also prepared to discuss access to mental health services and health equity.

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