Somali Health Board Honored with Executive’s Award for Community Resilience


Some members of the Somali Community, King County officials, and other dignitaries who attended the ceremony.

Runta News-Seattle September 12, 2018

King County Executive Dow Constantine chose the Somali Health Board to receive the eighth annual Executive’s Award for Community Resilience, based on their community approach to healthcare, disaster preparedness, and emergency response.

The Somali Health Board is the recipient of the eighth annual Executive’s Award for Community Resilience. The award is given each fall in recognition of outstanding efforts made by volunteer organizations to prepare for and respond to emergencies. The award is also intended to promote safer communities, strengthening King County as a whole. The ceremony was hosted by the board at their new facility in Tukwila, led by their executive director, Dr. Ahmed Ali, PharmD.

Born in 2012 in response to health concerns related to local emergencies (like carbon monoxide poisoning and flu outbreaks) Somali community leaders, healthcare professionals, and academics used analytical research to come up with the health board concept that takes a comprehensive approach to community resilience.

“The Somali Health Board has realized a combined vision of healthcare and emergency preparedness that saves lives, educates people, and improves the quality of life for the entire community,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “This innovative program provides an excellent model for other groups and communities to emulate.”

The Somali Health Board used findings from weather incidents, viral outbreaks, and other challenges to the community to formulate culturally appropriate methods for providing health education and services to the Somali community, including: Educating the community on hazards including flu virus and carbon monoxide poisonings. Informing people on 9-1-1 use and how to request language interpretation services. Working with healthcare and emergency providers to improve notifications to people with limited English proficiency. Providing CPR and First Aid training, as well as stationing defibrillators in local community centers and mosques. During a 2017 measles outbreak, leveraging traditional and social media to quickly get the word out on taking measures to minimize risk.

Candidate Shannon Braddock of State Senate Seat of 34th District congratulating Dr. Ahmed Ali, the Chief Executive Director of Somali Health Board.

“It’s wonderful to see this great partnership with Public Health – Seattle & King County and its continued relationship with grassroots organizations,” said Somali Health Board executive director Ahmed Ali. “Empowering communities’ assets in a collaborative manner promotes better health outcomes throughout the county.”

What started as small meetings among Somali health leaders, Public Health, and healthcare partners has evolved into a model practice being held up as an example to others. In collaboration with Public Health and leaders from other communities throughout our region, ten more community health boards have been established along with a unifying entity, the Community Health Board Coalition (CHBC).

“The Somali Health Board and the many other boards they have inspired across King County are the very definition of a ‘best practice,'” said Carina Elsenboss, Public Health Preparedness Director. “We look forward to our continued work together to ensure everyone can benefit from this success. Congratulations Somali Health Board!”

Burien Mayor Jimmy Matta at far left and Tukwila Council Member Zak Idan at far right were among dignitary attendees to honor Somali Health Board achievements in King County area.