Tag Archives: refugee health


Sondos Zayed is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University


Raised in an impoverished household, Ms. K was married off at a young age to a man decades her senior. As the years passed, the abuse her husband inflicted upon her escalated until she began fearing for her life. She spent years saving money and meticulously planning her escape, though her departure also meant abandoning her family to the mercy of her husband’s wrath. She eventually sought refuge in Québec, Canada.

With no real proof of identity, she was imprisoned for months upon arrival. Once released, with neither connections nor funds, she was directed to the YMCA Residence (which in 2010 had with the ...continue reading

Mandi Irwin is a family physician at the Nova Scotia Health Authority's , in Halifax, NS

Elizabeth Munn is a medical student at Dalhousie University


Hamid Abdihalim is a medical student at Dalhousie University

Matthew Ta is a medical student at Dalhousie University



Human displacement as a consequence of war, natural disaster, civil conflict or political instability is not a new problem. The ongoing war in Syria has brought this issue into mainstream view recently. This and other protracted and escalating conflicts have resulted in the displacement of over 22.5 million refugees globally, . In 2016 alone, almost 190,000 refugees were resettled in new countries around the world. This includes resettlement in Canada, which has welcomed over 25,000 refugees from Syria [1].

We often fail to appreciate that once refugees arrive in their countries of resettlement, they face substantial challenges ...continue reading

is Deputy Editor at CMAJ. She is currently attending the North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) in Colorado Springs, CO.


In the plenary session on providing primary care for refugees, one of the speakers, Kim Griswold, shared an image, now familiar to many, that is designed to help people to understand the difference between equality and equity. It demonstrates how some people start off at a relative disadvantage and need extra help to be able to achieve or access things that more advantaged people are able to experience equityeasily. This image, and similar ones, have been criticized by some social justice thinkers who point out that ...continue reading

griswold is Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, and Public Health and Health Professions at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Buffalo, New York. Dr Griswold will be speaking at the forthcoming North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) .


Communities in every nation are faced with providing competent, equitable and culturally appropriate services for resettling refugees. Health centric disciplines are not enough to meet the challenges presented by these newly arriving populations, nor to alleviate the disparities they face – such as isolation, limited English proficiency, differences in patients’ attitudes and health literacy levels, and a lack of cultural awareness on the part of providers.

Health inequity can be defined as: “unjust differences in health between persons of different social groups.” ...continue reading

spottie is Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Epi & Community Medicine at the University of Ottawa, as well as co-Chair of the Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health, and a family physician at the Immigrant Health Clinic of Ottawa, which he helped to found. Dr Pottie will be speaking at the forthcoming North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) .


My residency training in Ottawa began with a wave of refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala.  Most conflict-affected refugees - Somali, Sudanese, Congolese, Karen, Bhutanese, Colombian - come quietly and settle rapidly in our communities.  And, even in instances when the media cover the arrival of large waves of refugees, such as the Vietnamese boat people or the recent Syrian war victims, the refugees themselves settle quietly in our communities.

In the early 1990s, it felt almost revolutionary to care for refugees. There were few primary care practitioners trained and ready to lead ...continue reading

hauckf is Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia. Dr Hauck will be speaking at the forthcoming North American Primary Care Research Group (NAPCRG) .


The scope of the crisis is staggering!  The number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution has hit a record high—over 65 million with 21 million of these being refugees. Most face an uncertain future. Those who are resettled to a developed country are among the lucky ones. Nonetheless, they face many challenges in their new home, including accessing culturally sensitive health care.

My involvement with refugees began on the Thai-Cambodian border, where I spent a year providing primary health care to Cambodian refugees who were living in the largest border camp, having fled there after the Khmer Rouge were ousted after years of genocide. Moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2000, I never expected to find that refugees were being resettled in this small city. ...continue reading

David Benrimoh is a fourth year medical student at McGill University

Dr. Cécile Rousseau is a professor of psychiatry at McGill University, working with refugee and immigrant children


The Syrian Civil War has become the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, creating over 4 million refugees. These refugees have, in large part, taken up precarious temporary residence in countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. They are there because of local integration policies, and so are left to either wait until the conflict in their homeland is resolved, or to apply to attempt to resettle in another country. It must be understood that those living in refugee camps face difficult conditions: sexual violence, trafficking of women and children, and lack of access to healthcare and education.

Because of poor conditions and limited opportunities in camps, many refugees try and make the move to another country. We have all seen reports of refugees drowning by the hundreds while trying to cross the Mediterranean, and the EU has been paralyzed by indecision with respect to who should take how many refugees. Canada has committed to taking in 10,000 refugees by year’s end ...continue reading

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Dr Patrick O’Donnell is a Clinical Fellow at the University of Limerick and works on the . Last week he attended as the recipient of the 2015 WONCA Europe Montegut Scholarship


Nobody could have predicted the desperate state in Syria when the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA) Europe Conference for 2015 was awarded to the Turkish Family Medicine Organisation  (TAHUD) a few years ago. Few could also have predicted that Turkey would be at the very centre of a mass exodus of people not seen in Europe since the Second World War. According to the UNHCR as of September 2015 the country now finds itself providing refuge to an fleeing conflict and destitution. I have heard the current situation being described as a ‘stress test’ of the European values of solidarity and collegiality, ...continue reading

is a Canadian Physician currently volunteering with in the Mediterranean

Editor's note: This piece combines two of Simon's blogs published on Médecins Sans Frontières' staff blog '' on April 26th and May 4th respectively.

Since I arrived in Malta on April 18th over sixteen hundred people have drowned in the Mediterranean, and it's sadly starting to look like the deadliest year ever for trans-Mediterranean crossings. European politicians have scrambled to respond and the "Triton" program, consisting of naval and coast guard ships patrolling Europe's maritime frontiers, has just seen its funding tripled. Still it seems their objective won't be specifically "search and rescue" (SAR) benefiting those near death and close to the Libyan coast, but rather "wait and see" much, much farther north. ...continue reading

Suzanne Gagnon is a professor at the Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine Department, Université Laval, Québec

The took place from March 26–27th 2015 in Limerick, Ireland.


As a professor in Family Medicine at Laval University and cofounder of the Refugee Health Clinic in Québec, I was pretty interested in attending this conference. I was more than satisfied at the end of it. Seeing all the dynamic research studies that have been conducted for refugees and the implementation of concrete projects was so stimulating. In these times of austerity and with shortages of resources in many countries, it was interesting to see that some European countries have started this implementation work from the ground up, but with the involvement of the main health organizations at the European level.

In Québec, we have developed ...continue reading