Infection prevention and control and the refugee population: Experiences from the University of Louisville Global Health Center

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Abstract

Background:

During 2016, approximately 140,000 individuals entered the United States as part of the federal government refugee resettlement program and established themselves in communities in virtually every state. No national database regarding refugee health currently exists; therefore, little is known about existing infectious diseases, conditions, and cultural practices that impact successful acculturation. The objective of this report is to identify what is currently known about refugees and circumstances important to infection prevention and control with respect to their roles as new community members, employees, and consumers of health care.

Methods:

Using data from the University of Louisville Global Health Center's Newly Arriving Refugee Surveillance System, health issues affecting refugees from the perspective of a community member, an employee, and a patient were explored.

Results:

Lack of immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases is the most widespread issue impacting almost every adult, adolescent, and child refugee resettled in Kentucky. Health issues of concern from an infection prevention and control perspective include latent tuberculosis infection, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and parasites. Other health conditions that may also be important include anemia, obesity, oral health, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Conclusions:

Refugee resettlement provides motivation for collaborative work among those responsible for infection prevention and control in all settings, their public health partners, and those responsible for and interested in community workforce concerns.

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