We have an entire category here at RRW on refugee and immigrant health (286 previous posts!) and I’ve maintained for years that health problems coming into the US with refugees and the cost of treating the myriad diseases and chronic conditions could ultimately be more significant to your community than a terrorist attack might be.
That said, here is an informative article (hat tip: Joanne) from The Journal of Family Practice a few years ago which goes over the issues facing the medical community as we ‘welcome’ over 100,000 refugees and asylum seekers to America each year.
Pay special attention to the sections on Tuberculosis and HIV (there is no longer a bar to admission for HIV/AIDS and refugees are no longer even tested for it in advance of admission). Other big medical issues include intestinal parasites and hepatitis. And, of course mental health.
In 2012 we posted a film describing how refugees with active TB were being prepared for entry into the US, here.
Here is how the Journal of Family Practice article opens:
Refugees arrive in the United States with complex medical issues, including illnesses rarely seen here, mental health concerns, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
I encourage all of you working in ‘pockets of resistance’ to be sure to do your homework on health issues, including mental health issues. According to Anastasia Brown of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, 75% of Iraqis entering the US have mental illness. See Journal of Migration and Human Security report, here.
The Centers for Disease Control also has important information on its website, here.
And, in the past we have noted that both Texas and Minnesota health departments have lots of good information about refugee health on their websites, and I expect some other states do as well. If your state health department does not report on refugee medical problems that is something you should be advocating for where you live.
Again, see our ‘Health issues’ category by clicking here.