Refugee Health


UNHCR Baby polio immunizationPhysical and emotional wellness, as well as access to healthcare, are foundations for successful resettlement.   Without feeling healthy, it is difficult to work, to go school, or take care of a family.  Without health insurance, an injury or illness can threaten economic self-sufficiency.

Many factors can affect refugee health, including geographic origin and refugee camp conditions.  Refugees may face a wide variety of acute or chronic health issues.   Examples include infectious diseases such as tuberculosis or intestinal parasites, chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension, and mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.  Some conditions present diagnostic and treatment challenges.

Refugee health screening programs, clinical resources, and access to healthcare varies among states.

Emergency Preparedness Booklet in refugee languages now available

Newly arriving refugees are among the most vulnerable of populations during a disaster in the United States due to language barriers and a lack of exposure to U.S. practices around emergencies. This booklet introduces refugees to the types of disasters that occur in the United States as well as what to do during them and how to be prepared.

ORR Video Series

Emotional Wellness and Suicide Prevention

In response to reports of high levels of emotional distress amongst Bhutanese refugees, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in conjunction with Bhutanese community leaders and mental health professionals, created the following video, "Stories of Hope From Bhutanese Refugees: Moving From Distress to Wellness". Designed to promote emotional wellness and suicide prevention, the video features personal stories from Nepali-speaking Bhutanese refugees resettled in the United States after nearly two decades in refugee camps in Nepal. Accompanying the main video are profiles of seven Bhutanese refugees who briefly share methods they used to overcome emotional distress, and find a new sense of hope and meaning in life.  

Bhutanese Video Series

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Additional Resources:

Early community-based interventions with vulnerable individuals can help to reduce emotional, social and psychological stressors and lower the risk of individuals developing more serious mental health concerns. If you or someone you know is in distress--no matter what problems you are dealing with--we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

Women's Health Videos: Somali edition

ORR is pleased to present a four-part video series, Somali Refugee Women: Learn about your Health! The goal of the 4-part video series is to educate Somali women refugees about a variety of health issues that can affect – and possibly save – their lives, including reproductive health, diet and exercise, cancer screening, prenatal care and pregnancy, and other health topics. Check them out on ACF's YouTube channel.

Somali woman

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ORR publishes a quarterly newsletter, Refugee Health Together, which shares health-related information and resources with the resettlement network.

Sign up for the ORR list serve from the home page, to keep informed of news and other information from ORR.

View All Refugee Health Resources