Muslim Americans and Health Disparities with Dr. Sara Al-Dahir


Muslim Americans and Health Disparities with Dr. Sara Al-Dahir




Muslim Americans in New Orleans and Health Disparities


This interview captures Dr.Sara Al-Dahir's work with Muslim Americans and health equity during COVID along with her history.


Noor Alrashed


My Nola, My Story via Youtube


Mass Communication Department at Xavier University of Louisiana


28th April 2021


Noor Alrashed


My Nola, My Story


My Nola, My Story 2021






Health Disparities, Muslim Americans, New Orleans

Original Format


Noor: Good afternoon Dr. Sara, thank you so much for joining me today. I just have a couple questions to ask you about New Orleans and Medicine, especially Health disparities. My first question for you is why did you choose Pharmacy?

Dr. Sara: Well first, thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be able to answer these questions for you. Pharmacy grew out of a natural desire to be at the healthcare field, my uncle was a pharmacist-he actually work for the Ministry of Health in Iraq- so we- I come from a long line of pharmacists and particularly Pharmacy allowed me the opportunity to be particularly involved in therapeutic management of patients, which I was more interested in the management side as opposed to the diagnosis side so that's why pharmacy was very attractive.

Noor: That's interesting and then for my next question I have for you is what do you enjoy so much about New Orleans and why did you choose New Orleans for your work?

Dr.Sara: So my family moved here when I was 4 years old, so that wasn't necessarily my choice but I was raised in New Orleans- I did spend time in other parts of the United States; I did live on both the west coast and the east coast and even though both of those are near Water, neither of them have seafood as good as New Orleans so probably, the number one reason is the food. Also the culture here is different than the rest of the United States and I find it very accepting, very warm and it's really ideal for a community's to- to work together across because New Orleans has a very integrated approach to in terms of how it deals with its history as well as how it invites new people, so I've been in New Orleans for quite a long time, raised and educated largely in New Orleans.

Noor: Thank you so much, Speaking of communities, as a Muslim woman yourself, what [how] would you describe the Muslim Community in greater New Orleans, especially in the health fields?

Dr. Sara: Well the community changed a lot. New Orleans is a port city so the Dynamics of who would choose to settle in New Orleans has changed over the years and I particularly changed post- Katrina. After Katrina, we did lose a lot of the older families and it was replaced with people looking for newer opportunities. New Orleans does have a pretty robust Health Care industry particularly for training, when we had Charity Hospital which is now UMCNO but Charity itself was one of the Highlight trained medical training institution in the world particularly with trauma care, so individuals who were attracted to the healthcare education through Ochsner or LSU or Tulane, were drawn so we've always have that large cohort of healthcare practitioners within the Muslim Community and they would come here for training. Some of that was transient and many of them I leave so because it was mainly seen as a train place for training opportunities,we didn't have the opportunity to really build robust health care systems for recent migrants whether they be Muslim or not as well as-what you might see in Los Angeles or Chicago- was like the Umah Clinic, we didn't have those because many of our Healthcare practitioners in here for training would leave or be placed elsewhere and so I still think with regards to the Muslim Community and health care, I hope they get trained here but I also hope they stay and help build our our system which serves our community.

Noor: Of course, and could you briefly explain your work with local mosques and COVID-19.

Dr. Sara: Sure, my training is in infectious disease and critical care as a Pharmacist and I’ve spent the last three years getting a second doctorate with John Hopkins University looking particularly at vaccines. So I’ve spent three years training on vaccinations and vaccine equity globally. So when the pandemic arose, there were several funding opportunities offered by the National Institute of Health. One of them was LA-CEAL another one is called Radx-Up, all of these are COVID based. And in order for any research to be effective, particularly on- in Health Crisis, we need community involvement. So we have always had-both my family and through our relief agency my family runs which is called Medical Relief Fund, we had a very robust relationship with many of the masjids, particularly those masjids which represent communities that were disproportionately impacted by COVID and by that I mean African American community. We saw the early disparities emerge, we know they were contextualized by historical disparities related to lack of healthcare access and discrimination within the larger U.S. context but also within the Healthcare System, so when we received the funding to help alleviate the impact of COVID. I was able to leverage our long relationship with the African American Muslims and their masjids to use it as ,not only to provide COVID testing and vaccination education but also for them to share with us how they think we can overcome the pandemic and prevent these disparities in the future. I would say that as a researcher, we’ve benefitted far more from them than they did from us.

Noor: Thank you so much, and do you wish to see any specific future developments for Muslim Americans in health, in the health fields?

Dr.Sara: Well the Muslim American community is probably well represented in the health fields and what I’m hoping is that they branch out and see it beyond just the clinical practice, so what I have done recently is looking for opportunities for research, for advocating for equity across groups- not just Muslim groups- and also becoming in vloved in policy making, If- I’m hoping for the next step for Muslim American health Professionals is really to move towards these decision making roles that are informed by research roles, so when we’re addressing health care disparities or as well emgering health issues that we’re doing it from a much higher level than just direct patient access. Now direct patient access is of course the key and heart but I think we’re now well trained enough and represented enough that we can move to the next levels and start sitting at policy decision meetings.

Noor: I mean that’s all the questions that I have for you today… Thank you for your time.


6:48 (6 minutes 48 seconds)


Noor Alrashed


Noor Alrashed


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Date Added
May 5, 2021
Item Type
Moving Image
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Noor Alrashed , “Muslim Americans and Health Disparities with Dr. Sara Al-Dahir,” MY NOLA, MY STORY , accessed March 2, 2024,