Tag: Refugees

Addressing the health needs of refugees and asylum seekers

The health risks to refugees and asylum seekers has become very topical with the identification of Legionella on the Bibby Stockholm barge Refugees and asylum seekers will often come from countries that have high rates of infections such as tuberculosis and hepatitis B / C (among others).

Refugees and asylum seekers will also often not be vaccinated to UK standards. A comprehensive health screen is essential when they enter the UK to identify and treat any infections they might have (as well as other significant medical problems such as diabetes and mental health issues).

It’s also essential to offer any missing vaccines to bring them in line with UK vaccination standards; and address any physical and mental health problems they have; and ensure they have access to good NHS primary care services to deal with new and ongoing medical problems.

Legionella is sometimes found in the water systems of larger buildings, particularly those with older systems where water can pool at the temperature at which Legionella can multiply quickly. Suitable action to deal with the water system is needed when Legionella is identified to reduce the risk of Legionnaire’s disease to people using and living in the affected building.

The poorer the quality & maintenance of the water system, the more likely Legionella will be found and the more difficult it will be to control. Older people, those with chronic lung disease or other serious medical problems such as diabetes, and weak immune systems are at highest risk of serious illness from Legionella.

The accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers can be environments where infections spread rapidly, because these sites are often crowded and the people living in them will often congregate together. This poses a threat to both the health of the residents and the wider community because infectious and parasitic diseases such as Covid-19, gastroenteritis and scabies can then spread quickly among the residents. Appropriate surveillance, medical care and public health interventions are crucial to mitigate these risks.