Today I talked to Prashasti as part of our Ambassador Summer Research Series. Prashasti is working as a Cancer Disparities Intern at the Program in Health Disparities Research in the University of Minnesota Medical School, Twin Cities. As an intern, she is assessing the role of religiosity and community support in shisha/hookah cessation among East-Africans in Twin Cities. Hookah use is a rising public health issue, especially in the East-African community. Since the tobacco smoke is passed through a water basin, many people consider it to be safer than regular cigarettes and other tobacco products. However, research suggests that smoking tobacco through Waterpipes is as dangerous as cigarettes, and it is this sort of awareness that Prashasti with her mentor is seeking to bring to minority communities around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
Prashasti’s work consists of analyzing data and designing future interventions that use religion as a health promotion tool in the Somali and Oromo communities. Such interventions would not only help address the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs associated with Waterpipes in these communities, but also decrease the risk of developing cancer through primary and secondhand smoke exposure. As part of the internship, Prashasti is also shadowing a physician at Bethesda Clinic to learn more about the problems experienced by immigrant and refugee population.
Her internship is 8 weeks long, and at the end she and her colleagues will present their research and results in a professional poster presentation at McNamara Alumni Center. We look forward to seeing that!