Abdulkerim Said

Photo by Michael D. Wilson

Abdulkerim Said, Executive Director of New Mainers Public Health Initiative

By Rachel Hurn

When Maine had its first incidence of COVID-19, Abdulkerim Said, executive director of New Mainers Public Health Initiative (NMPHI), organized immigrants, community leaders, faith leaders, health professionals, and civilians into a task force to tackle the virus in the New Mainers communities. Said says his organization was essential in getting the Maine Center for Disease Control to provide statistics broken down by race and ethnicity. As the pandemic worsened, it became clear that people of color were disproportionately affected by COVID, with Black people infected at almost 2.5 times the rate of white people. In addition, NMPHI organized community health workers to give food to individuals who were in need, provided the community with hand sanitizer and masks, and empowered people to follow the Maine CDC guidelines by interpreting and translating for those who needed it. Under Said’s direction, NMPHI was honored by the Maine Public Health Association with this year’s Public Health Program of Excellence Award, which recognizes evidence-based public health programs. “With patience, persistence, and vigilance,” he says, “we can find the solution to COVID-19.”

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