As hundreds of refugees settle into their new Saskatoon homes every year, local health care providers have gathered to learn how to make sure each new resident gets proper service.
More than 120 doctors, nurses, family physicians and social workers gathered at the University of Saskatchewan this week to discuss refugee health care.
“We are well equipped to deal with Canadian patients, but these refugees have specific and unique health care needs,” continuing medical education assistant dean Andries Muller said.
Due to a variety of reasons, including lack of access to medical care in their home country, refugees may present Canadian doctors with illnesses or needs they may not have seen or read about since their school days.
Muller said tuberculosis, hepatitis A and B and the parasitic disease strongyloidiasis were part of their discussions because they are rare in Canadians, but more common in refugees. They also focused on mental health such as trauma, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder due to what refugees may have experiences at home and abroad.
Dentist and Iranian refugee Parviz Yazdani said the challenge of navigating a new health system can also cause stress.
“They are already new in the country, they don’t know the language, the system, and once they figure out the system, they don’t have the financing and they have no way to get there.”
Yazdani, who has treated many refugees as the managing director of the Saskatoon West Dental facility, said the dental hygiene of refugees resembles that of Canadians who have limited access to dental care.
Yazdani has worked with the Open Doors Society to try and make navigating the health system a little easier for refugees, but he believes more should be done.
“Imagine most phobias that they average person has going to the dentist and now add on the difficultly of understanding and communicating with dental professionals,” he said. “It creates a situation where you have to be almost as good psychologist as a clinician.”
With files from NewsTalk’s Bryn Levy