What happens when health systems are designed with lived experiences as a foundation?
They respond better. We can see ourselves in them. Our community members are more likely to engage with them.
This idea is one of the central tenets of the Reimagine Health program run by RADIUS. Reimagine Health offers a collaborative space for people from or connected to impacted communities to innovate, curate, and bring together diverse ways of knowing to tackle real-life health challenges and strategize sustainable solutions. Statistics show that BIPOC innovators are some of the most underrepresented in health innovation ecosystems. And this isn’t because there is a shortage of people with an understanding of health inequities or even with solutions to tackle these inequities.
And the solutions from our participants have been limitless. Dania Al-Alusi, a 2021 participant, is currently working on developing digitized evidence-based interventions to support children’s social & emotional development, a project she began during the program. Empathizing with various stakeholders’ need for this data is driven by skills she exercised during the program. Given that she has a background in psychology and has worked as an entrepreneur for over ten years, combining research and entrepreneurship experience fulfilled her vision to do more.
For Halah Zumrawi and her project teammates, their attention was drawn to the ways in which the local Muslim community could access mental health resources. They conducted a study of attitudes toward mental health and identified gaps in access resulting in a project that proposed the compilation of information on Muslim mental healthcare professionals. The study garnered nearly 200 responses indicating the level of urgency and need in the local community.
These solutions were important because they were grounded in the identities the participants held; they were developed in a space where they didn’t have to rationalize how their racialized lived experience played into the picture. Halah reflected on how significant this was for access to healthcare, “Particularly in the current socio-political context, there is a racialization of certain religious minorities. They say religion and politics are what we don’t talk about in polite society but we wanted to take a look at that because that was our lived experience as Muslim women and we were seeing what was happening in our communities. Through the Reimagine Health program, we had the opportunity to meet people who shared the same lived experience, to test and narrow down our focus, and get incredible community feedback.”