Friday, 4 April 2014

Study finds that asylum seekers face barriers when accessing health care

DEPM's Associate Professor AndrĂ© Renzaho has written a study which explores the physical health problems that asylum seekers experience on settlement in the community. The study found that Asylum seekers had complex health profiles spanning a range of infectious diseases, chronic non-communicable conditions, and reproductive-health issues. They appeared to utilise health services at a higher rate than the host population, yet faced significant barriers to care.

The study entitled, "The physical health status, service utilisation and barriers to accessing care for asylum seekers residing in the community: a systematic review of the literature", highlights the health inequities faced by asylum seekers residing in the communities of host countries, internationally.

According to the study, the clinical and political focus of asylum seekers’ health has largely been on the higher incidence of mental disorders and the impact of immigration detention. Since policy changes made in late 2011, an increasing number of asylum seekers have been permitted to live in the community while their claims are processed. There is a paucity of research exploring the physical health needs of asylum seekers residing in the community.

National data on asylum seekers’ health profiles, service utilisation and barriers to care, as well as cross-country policy comparisons, are urgently required for the development of effective Australian health programs and evidence-based policy.

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