2.C Settlement and Integration
C.5 How are physical, mental, and dental health treated?
(ii) What special health needs may arise out of refugee experiences?
How Canada Does It
Special health needs may include mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; immunization catch-up; and chronic and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and dental disease. While some health needs – especially physical health issues – are immediately identifiable, others, e.g. mental health issues, may only become apparent over time. Immediate access to contraception, and prenatal and postnatal care can also be a priority for women that may have had limited or no access to healthcare during displacement.
A number of factors give rise to the special health needs of refugees. Refugees may have experienced a significant gap in terms of regular healthcare affecting immunization and pre-existing conditions. Mental health is influenced by experiences of torture, war, death or disappearance of family and friends, severe deprivation, traumatic events such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, and forced displacement.
Specific health concerns may include: immunization for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis, varicella, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C; treatment for HIV, malaria and intestinal parasites; mental health and maltreatment issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, child maltreatment, and intimate partner violence; chronic and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, iron-deficiency anemia, dental disease, and vision health; and women’s health issues, namely contraception, cervical cancer, and pregnancy.
While some physical health issues may be immediately identifiable, others – especially mental health issues – may only become apparent over time.