Friday, 13 February 2015

A systematic review of the current health services accessed by asylum seekers: barriers to accessing care and the implications

Associate Professor Andre Renzaho and Emily Hadgkiss from St. Vincent’s Hospital have co-authored a paper conducting a systematic review examining the health issues that asylum seekers face when adjusting into a new community. The paper evaluates the current obstacles in accessing healthcare facilities as well as determining their use of the current healthcare systems in place.

Policy changes introduced in 2011 have allowed for asylum seekers to settle in communities whilst their claims are being processed, however, this has introduced a need for the recognition of their physical and mental needs. Furthermore, they face struggles in being able to afford health services and require support from external organisations. The lack of information and studies pertaining to this issue has led to this systematic review to examine the current services being administered and what needs to be done.

Results indicated that asylum seekers had a diverse range of health needs with individuals facing different health issues such as non-communicable diseases and reproductive health struggles. Asylum seekers used health services more frequently than the local community; however there are many obstacles allowing them to easily access to the services they require. The authors make a clear note of the various health backgrounds of asylum seekers that has not been previously addressed in research.

The paper concludes that the disparity of access to care for asylum seekers in the settlement process is international and that to effectively handle the issue; a data system operating on a national scale should be introduced to create a better understanding of the health needs for asylum seekers. They also suggest that a cross-country policy comparison process should be implemented to create a better health program within Australia. These strategies are stated as urgent in order to effectively remove the current barriers in the health care system to minimise the existing health inequalities burdening asylum seekers.

The paper is available in full here.


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