256923 Moratorium on refugee resettlement? Role for the public health system in assuring the health of the community's most diverse newcomers

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rosemary M. Caron, PhD, MPH , Health Management and Policy, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
Thandi Tshabangu-Soko, MPH, MS, MA , School of Health Sciences, Simmons College, Boston, MA
Manchester, NH is an urban refugee resettlement community in New England that recently requested a moratorium from the US State Department in their obligation to accept refugees. This community claimed that the resources to provide these newcomers with employment, quality housing, and the opportunity to learn English were strained in these challenging economic times. To explore the complexity of this issue from the standpoint of community leaders as regulators of the resettlement process and the resettled refugees who live by those policies, we conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with key stakeholders (city officials, resettlement agencies, social service agencies developed by refugees, and recently resettled refugee populations) to 1.) describe the urban community's ecology for refugees; 2.) identify the perceived/actual challenges to refugee resettlement; and 3.) evaluate the needs of the resettled refugee population and the available community resources. Since communities and neighborhoods are important determinants in health-related problems for resettled refugee populations, a particular emphasis of our work was to examine the public health issues (e.g., childhood lead poisoning, bed bug infestations) experienced by the resettled refugees and the role, challenges and successes of the public health system in working to fulfill the mission of public health for their most diverse populations. This case study represents a microcosm of the public health issues that refugee resettlement communities across the country are experiencing. We suggest recommendations for how practitioners who assist resettled refugee populations with complex public health issues can promote health and prevent disease in resource constrained times.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: Describe the impact refugee resettlement can have on a resource constrained community Describe one major public health issue experienced by resettled refugees in an urban community Describe at least one method by which a public health practitioner can carry out the public health mission for refugee populations in economically challenging times

Keywords: Refugees, Community Capacity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the former Director of the University of New Hampshire's (UNH) MPH Program. I am currently a faculty member in the UNH Department of Health Management and Policy and I teach public health courses to undergraduate and graduate students. Prior to coming to academia, I practiced public health, for ten years, at the local, state, and private consulting levels.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.