Nevada Policy Research Institute investigates Catholic Charities refugee health screening….

….finds it lacking.

Here is the report released last Tuesday of an investigation by the Nevada Policy Research Institute that concludes that refugees are not being properly screened for diseases that impair their chances of making it in America, but also put the general public at risk for diseases which we are not familiar with.

Here is the background:

LAS VEGAS — Refugees from around the world come to Southern Nevada, often from countries with diseases not commonly seen in the native U.S.-born population.

How sound is the medical screening refugees receive? Are they getting adequate medical care?

According to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, more than a thousand refugees annually relocate to Las Vegas with federal assistance. The top countries of origin, says ORR, are Cuba, Iraq, Eritrea, Bhutan and Ethiopia.

Because the refugees often come “from regions of the world with high rates of certain diseases,” notes the federal agency, “refugees face special health challenges.” They thus must first undergo medical screening overseas to ensure they are medically eligible for the U.S. Refugee Program. Then, after arriving in the U.S., they are directed to undergo more in-depth medical examination.

One purpose of the U.S.-based screening, says ORR, is to protect the public health of U.S. citizens. A second purpose is to “provide refugees with a level of health and well-being required for and supportive of successful resettlement in the U.S.”

Since 1994, ORR’s partner in Nevada for refugee services has been Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada (CCSN). For fiscal year 2010-11, the nonprofit administered some $6.7 million in federal refugee funds. CCSN not only serves as ORR’s designated State Refugee Coordinator, but also operates the local refugee resettlement office.

The Southern Nevada Health District, under contract to Catholic Charities since at least 2008, conducts the federally required medical screenings for the refugees — including their health histories and physical examinations.

The refugee medical screenings conducted by SNHD over the last five years, however, do not appear to conform to federal standards.

Read the whole discussion on who is performing these examinations.

The Center for Disease Control says refugees are at greater risk for many diseases:

“Depending on their country of origin,” says the CDC, “refugees are at increased risk for many diseases, both infectious and noninfectious, not commonly seen in the native US-born population. Conditions such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections are particularly important to recognize early, given their potential public health consequences.”

So, what are they seeing in the Southern Nevada refugee population?

SNHD’s 2010 annual report states that its staff that year “screened 484 refugees,” with 109 of them requiring “follow-up for possible communicable diseases: 72 for tuberculosis; 13 for hepatitis B; 10 for ova and parasites; and 15 for sexually transmitted disease.” For 2011, the comparable numbers were 492 refugees, 109 receiving follow-up: 72 for tuberculosis; 17 for hepatitis B; 10 for ova and parasites; and 14 for sexually transmitted disease.   [What a coincidence that the numbers are so close from year to year, wonder if they are just making these up—ed]

Whew!  It’s a good thing we got Obamacare to pay for all of this!

See our health issues category, here, for many more stories like this one.

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