Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center
Our February issue highlights chronic disease in honor of National Heart Health Month!  

Heart Health Services for Refugees

This article was written by Dr. Marc Altshuler, an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Jefferson Medical College. Dr. Altschuler's interests are in working with underserved populations, community health, and refugee health. He is the current Director of The Center for Refugee Health in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Kevin Scott of the Center for Refugee Health also contributed to this article. 


Over the past few years, a shift has occurred in the health conditions identified during the domestic refugee medical examination -- an  increasing prevalence of chronic medical conditions. This finding was highlighted in a recent MMWR article, which cited a high prevalence of chronic, non-infectious health conditions (including obesity and hypertension) among Iraqi refugees resettled in California from 2007 to 2009. If left untreated, these conditions may lead to increased health care expenditures as well as increased morbidity and mortality.


In our practice, we have provided longitudinal care for more than 750 refugees since late 2007 and have observed similar trends. While the primary health concerns upon arrival are, for many refugees (e.g., Karen and Chin ethnic groups from Burma), still related to infectious disease, chronic disease has grown in importance. Among our Iraqi patients, rates of hypertension approach 20% and rates of diabetes exceed 6% (compared to a U.S. prevalence of 31% and 9%, respectively). Incorporating recommended screening into our practice model and addressing chronic disease at the initial exam have enabled us to surpass both the current U.S. (44%) and Healthy People 2020 (61%) target rates for blood pressure control among refugees with hypertension (>70%). Although more research must be conducted, it is important to consider and address chronic disease in all refugees, and to continue to collect and share data on prevalence among different refugee populations so that the initial exam can be targeted more accurately based on refugee country of origin.  


Community Dialogue: Your Space for Connecting, Sharing & Learning 

Since the launch of RHTAC Community Dialogue last month, refugee-serving providers have taken advantage of this online forum to share perspectives on refugee health issues. Recent enhancements to Community Dialogue make it easier to find and comment on the topics interesting to you.  Visit Community Dialogue to join ongoing discussions about domestic health orientation, mental health screening, and refugee youth or to suggest a future dialogue topic. Join the conversation > 

Affordable Care Act & Refugee Health
In the News 

The Affordable Care Act provided $8.2 million in crucial funding for a community health center in Kansas City that also serves as the local health intake facility for refugees. Read more > 


Health Insurance Exchanges (HIEs) 

Beginning in 2014, refugees whose incomes are above 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL), but who lack employer-based or private health insurance, will be able to purchase affordable coverage through Health Insurance Exchanges. Furthermore, premium and cost-sharing tax credits will be available for refugees and others with incomes between 133% and 400% FPL to make the purchase of quality insurance affordable.


So, what exactly is an HIE? In short, it is a one-stop health insurance shopping center that will provide information to help consumers better understand their options. These new, state-level organizations will offer a more user-friendly, organized and competitive marketplace for buying health insurance. They will certify participating insurance plans and provide clear information on services available through various health plans. Get more information on HIEs > 

Upcoming RHTAC Webinars
Addressing the Language Access Barrier When Serving Refugee Patients

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

1:00 - 2:30 PM EST

Presented by: Cindy Roat, MPH, National Language Access Consultant.   

Register now > 

Upcoming Events   
3 Day Regional Training:
San Diego, CA - March 7-9, 2012
Atlanta, GA - March 12-14, 2012*
Philadelphia, PA - March 21-23, 2012*
Chicago, IL - March 26-28, 2012*
*Continuing education units offered 
Presented by: Heartland Alliance, with sponsorship from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.


African Refugee and Immigrant Lives: Conflict, Consequences, and Contributions 

May 2-4, 2012, Arlington, VA 

Presented by: The Ethiopian Community Development Council's (ECDC) Center for African Refugees and Immigrants (CARI). 


North American Refugee Healthcare Conference - Registration now open!

June 28-30, 2012, Rochester, NY

Presented by: Rochester General Hospital.


National Immigrant Integration Conference 

September 22-25, 2012, Baltimore, MD
Presented by: The National Partnership for New Americans.

On-site Learning: November 4-17, 2012, Orvieto, Italy
Web-based Learning: November 2012 - May 2013
Funding Opportunities    

Preferred Communities Program 
Due March 1, 2012.
Funding to support the resettlement of newly
arriving refugees in Preferred Communities where they have ample opportunities for early employment and sustained economic independence and to address special populations who need intensive case management, culturally and linguistically appropriate linkages, and coordination with other service providers.     


Affordable Care Act - Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Research Network 

Due March 5, 2012. The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to support the creation of an interdisciplinary, multicenter forum for home visiting research that is designed to improve life outcomes among mothers, infants, and young children. Only public or nonprofit institutions of higher learning and public or private nonprofit agencies engaged in research or in programs relating to maternal and child health and/or services for children with special health care needs may apply. Organizations directly involved in the operation of home visiting programs are not eligible to apply.  


Ethnic Community Self Help Program

Due March 13, 2012.
Funding for ethnic community-based and faith-based organizations to strengthen organized ethnic communities comprised and representative of refugee populations to ensure ongoing support and services to refugees within five years after initial resettlement. 
Due March 15, 2012. The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation launched the Connections for Cardiovascular Health program to improve cardiovascular health within the U.S. and its territories. This program awards Foundation grants of $150,000 and more annually to U.S.-based, nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations or similar nonprofit organizations engaged in community-level charitable work.

Standing Announcement for Supplemental Services for Recently Arrived Refugees
Due March 16, 2012. Funding to provide services to newly arriving refugees or sudden large secondary migration of refugees where communities are not sufficiently prepared in terms of linguistic or culturally appropriate services and/or do not have sufficient service capacity.

Assets for Independence Demonstration Program

Spring Cycle due March 26, 2012. Support for community-based organizations to offer Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts), financial education, and related services to low-income individuals and families, in order for them to accumulate savings and invest in appreciating assets such as a first home, small business, or higher education or training.

Immigrant Health Award
The Migration Policy Institute's E Pluribus Unum Prizes are a national awards program that provides prizes annually to exceptional initiatives that promote immigrant integration. Apply >

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience at Children's Hospital Boston, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at Center for Applied Linguistics, and JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. RHTAC is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.    


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Road to Health Toolkit

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This toolkit is for CHWs, nurses, health educators, dietitians, and others working with populations at high risk for type 2 diabetes. It is designed for African American/African Ancestry and Hispanic/Latino communities-but can appeal to any audience.  The toolkit includes activities that educate patients on how diabetes can be prevented or delayed in populations at risk for the disease.


Capacity Building for Diabetes Outreach: A Comprehensive Tool Kit for Organizations Serving Asian and Pacific Islander Communities

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This toolkit outlines the steps of building a diabetes prevention program including community needs assessment, coalition building, cultural competence, outreach, funding, and evaluation.


2010 Affordable Care Act: A Guide for Families

University of Maryland Council on Family Relations.  

This is an objective, non-partisan collection of information regarding the implications of the health care law's provisions on families. The information presented was taken from


Low-Cost Broadband & Computers

Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC will launch "Connect to Compete," an initiative to bring low-cost broadband and computers to millions of low-income Americans, in the spring of 2012. Under this initiative, families eligible for the National School Lunch Program can receive discounted monthly broadband internet, a computer, and free digital literacy training.         


Refugee Health Screener - 15 (RHS - 15) Packet

Pathways to Wellness.

The RHS-15 was developed in a community public health setting 

to be an efficient and effective way to sensitively detect the range of emotional distress common across refugee groups.


Webinar Archive     

Strong Roots and Bright Futures: Promoting Successful Adjustment for Refugee Youth 

February 8, 2012 

Adapting QPR Training to Incorporate Refugee Experiences

January 31, 2012 


Tools and Strategies for Refugee Mental Health Screening: Introducing the RHS-15

January 25, 2012 


Clinical Care to Refugees with HIV Infection 

November 30, 2011


Domestic Refugee Health Screening Models and Clinical Guidelines

October 26, 2011


Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Refugees in Primary Care Settings

July 27, 2011


HIV and Refugee Resettlement  

June 23, 2011

Suicide Among Refugees: Understanding the Social and Cultural Context for Prevention Strategies

May 17, 2011   


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