Refugee Health Clinic “life changing”

By Corey Aalders

HALIFAX – A new Refugee Health Clinic is ensuring refugees and their families have the health care they need.

The Refugee Health Clinic is a partnership with Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, Halifax Refugee Clinic and Department of Health and Wellness. The clinic provides refugees and their families with primary and preventative health services during their initial integration into the Halifax area.

“When my family arrived in Nova Scotia we had no family doctor. We had no money to access a private clinic,” said Alphonce Mutangoma, a patient of the Refugee Health Clinic. “We had no means to care for our health. The Refugee Health Clinic has been a great benefit to my family and fellow immigrants. It is a wonderful, life changing initiative.”

At a standing room-only event to launch the clinic, Health and Wellness minister Leo Glavine, Immigration minister Lena Diab and NSHA President and  CEO Janet Knox spoke welcomed refugees, stakeholders and staff.

“This grand opening was not just about a bricks and mortar location for the Refugee Health Clinic. Instead, it’s representing a way of working together to provide primary health care services for refugees,” said Janet Knox.

About 200-300 refugees make Nova Scotia home each year. Many have lived in camps for a long time and, as a result, may have unique health needs. It can be challenging for refugees to find a family practice when they first arrive, but with the support of the Refugee Health Clinic, they experience fewer barriers to care.

The clinic provides services such as ensuring up-to-date vaccinations, chronic disease management and routine primary care.

About 10 per cent of the clinic's patients are people waiting to hear about their refugee status and who can't see a family doctor or have their basic health needs met.