Intended for healthcare professionals

Personal Views Personal views

Looking after the health of refugees

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 01 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:59
  1. Yohannes Fassil, community health development manager
  1. Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Health Authority

    Fifteen years ago I came to the United Kingdom as a political refugee from Eritrea. I remember feeling extremely vulnerable. I had lost my home, my family, my friends, my job, and my social status. I knew nothing about the healthcare or social welfare systems, and, even though I had the advantage of a good education and spoke English, it took me a long time to understand them. I received no information about the health service and was not invited to register with a general practitioner. Despite coming from an area with a high prevalence of tuberculosis I was not offered a health check on arrival.

    Eighty five per cent of refugees in the United Kingdom live in London

    My experience is certainly not unique. There are over 48 million refugees in the world today. The majority seek protection in neighbouring countries, largely in Africa and Asia, but an increasing number are coming to western Europe, including refugees from former eastern …

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