DEARBORN – The city’s new Department of Public Health (DPH), and its director, got a sort of unveiling at a baby formula food distribution event on Friday.
The distribution event, which comes amid a national formula shortage, took place at the west entrance of the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.
Families were able to drive up and receive up to five units of various types of baby formula. The department gave out 500 units of formula.
The department, created merely six weeks ago by the city’s new administration, partnered with several lol non-profits to obtain the units, and also offered bilingual health guidance on formula substitution.
The distribution was scheduled to run until 2 p.m., available units of formula ran out at approximately 11:30 a.m.—30 minutes into the event—demonstrating the overwhelming need for families during a national shortage of the product, the city said.
Photos: A baby formula distribution event held by the city of Dearborn and its new Department of Public Health, Friday, May 27. Photos: City of Dearborn and Imad Mohamad
“We set out to help alleviate the pain and suffering that Dearborn families are dealing with,” said newly appointed Dearborn Public Health Director Ali Abazeed. “While this won’t meet the overwhelming need, we wanted to do as much good for as many people as possible, and we hope to do more.”
Partner organizations include the Amity Foundation, the Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive, the Dearborn Goodfellows, and the Dearborn Exchange Club.
The DPH is a new city department established in April as part of Mayor Abdullah Hammoud’s “vision of instituting health considerations in all city policies.”
“This department is about ensuring we never miss an opportunity to promote the health and well-being of Dearborn families,” said Hammoud, himself an epidemiologist by training. “As this event demonstrated, the need is significant, but so is our will to do something.”
“We’re a new department, six weeks old,” Abazeed told The Arab American News. “Health is not just what you get in a clinic, with a doctor, our health is the influence of the environment, it’s a national shortage that’s a result of regulations with the federal government, what we’re focusing on is how do we (best tailor) what we do to the unique needs of Dearborn residents.”
As the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the country, Abazeed said the city has not seen a specialized healthcare focus that takes the community’s needs into account, up till now. This played out in while the city’s new administration sought to tackle the formula shortage locally.
“The first thing we did was we rolled out information to help people, (told them to) be careful when ordering online, be careful from international vendors, be careful mixing,” Abazeed said. “So we wanted to put out information, that’s our goal as a department, is to educate and empower, and make the public (aware) of what we’re doing.”
Residents are encouraged to follow the Department on social media (@DearbornDPH) for future announcements about the shortage, and localized public health projects.