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Learn how to speak up effectively for children in immigrant families :

September 22, 2020












Editor's note: For more coverage of the 2020 AAP Virtual National Conference & Exhibition, visit

Anisa M. Ibrahim, M.D., FAAP, and Lanre O. Falusi, M.D., FAAP, are not shy about speaking up for children in immigrant families. And they are calling on their fellow pediatricians to do the same.

“We must use our voice to ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow and thrive,” Dr. Ibrahim said.

Pediatricians can learn how to frame and deliver messages effectively during a session led by Drs. Falusi and Ibrahim titled “Communication Strategies to Advocate for Children in Immigrant Families” (L4104) from 10-11 a.m. CDT on Monday, Oct. 5.

Dr. IbrahimDr. Ibrahim and Dr. Falusi share a fervor for the health and safety of immigrant children because they are immigrants themselves.

“My lived experience as a refugee drives my passion in caring for children in immigrant families,” said Dr. Ibrahim, medical director of Harborview Pediatric Clinic in Seattle.

Dr. Ibrahim fled war-torn Somalia when she was 6 years old. She has vague memories of family members being robbed, sounds of bullets and guns to people’s head. When she arrived in the U.S., she and her family struggled with culture shock, social isolation, language barriers and navigating the complex medical system.

Yet, there were positives.

“My family emigrated here from Somalia in times where our nation welcomed children and families with open arms,” she said. “Every child deserves to grow up in a community where their health and well-being are put first.”

Dr. Falusi and her family left Nigeria when she was 5 years old so her parents could continue their graduate education in the U.S.

Dr. Falusi“My immigrant story does not carry as much trauma as those of my patients, many of whom have fled violence in Central America, but I can relate to their struggles with acculturation and uncertainty in a new environment,” said Dr. Falusi, medical director of advocacy education at the Child Health Advocacy Institute, Children's National Hospital, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Falusi and Dr. Ibrahim, who are members of the AAP Council on Immigrant Child and Family Health Executive Committee, will draw on their own advocacy efforts as they share evidence-based communication strategies.

Dr. Ibrahim noted that advocacy for immigrants and immigration has become an “us vs. them” debate. She advises avoiding such debates and instead approaching the issue with care and compassion, “taking on the lens of immigrants as us.”

The goal, Dr. Falusi added, is to provide facts, make an emotional appeal and humanize populations that often are marginalized.

“We hope attendees take away concrete communication strategies for advocating for children in immigrant families,” Dr. Falusi said. “These are tools that can be used when talking with family members at Thanksgiving or advocating for policies within their practices and institutions or speaking with the media or elected officials.”

A recording of the session can be accessed  via the virtual platform through Jan. 31, 2021. 

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