United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal, and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.
Metropolitan Denver is home to a significant population of refugees, particularly in Denver and Aurora. These individuals and families are often the most urban underserved population in metro Denver and in the United States. Besides the resulting problems from trauma and often insufferable living conditions in their home countries and refugee camps, they face a myriad of difficulties trying to reconstruct their lives here. An overriding problem is health care and the intersecting social determinants of health including income insecurity, food scarcity, job training, employment, education, transportation, and of course language barriers.
Many refugees face multiple health problems similar to those of the general population while other medical issues are more endemic to the refugee life such as “hut lung” which can create severe lung conditions (emphysema) due to open fire cooking within a hut in their home country or refugee camp. Depression, PTSD and other psychological problems are also prevalent in the refugee population. Due to language and sometimes cultural differences, medication is often misused or not used, and appropriate medical care is not sought nor often understood. Layer these health issues with social determinant problems and the result is a population, which experiences an array of problems and crises all while living on the edge.
There is also a significant lack of health care professionals trained to work with refugees, all of whom deserve quality medical care. So when we ask “why a Refugee Health Elective” it is precisely due to the health care and social determinant needs of this population and the lack of qualified staff to deliver such.
This elective will provide the knowledge, understanding, training, and experience to work effectively with refugee populations.
- Provide better health care for our refugee population
- Help to address refugee health issues, intersecting social determinant needs and the provision of quality care
- Enable exposure to this population through opportunities to engage with families and individuals
- Increase knowledge, understanding and experience with health and social determinant needs of the refugee population and the resources which serve them
- Motivate participants to include the refugee population in their practice of medicine
We work with refugees from a variety of countries including Burma, Bhutan, Thailand, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia.
The refugees live in Denver and Aurora.
A typical rotation is 4 weeks long, community-based and consists of addressing the health and related social determinant needs of patients through work with assigned families, Adult Day Care Centers, a Ready Tots Program, WalkTalks, and other settings including Street Fraternity.
All participants will complete a training/orientation; an on-line four module Refugee Health Primer; assigned readings; pre, mid, and post surveys; mentor and related meetings; and four weeks of comprehensive work with refugee patients.
- Contact Dr. Jamal Moloo, Director, University of Colorado School of Medicine Urban Underserved Track, email@example.com to discuss the Refugee Health Elective.
- Register for the Elective.
This elective is a joint effort of the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado and the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning.