Syrian Refugee Healthcare

Providing Care

If you are accepting patients, contact your regional Primary Care Connector through Family Doctor Finder at 204-786-7811 or 1-866-690-8260 and your call will be directed.

The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) has created a Refugee Health Care Resource to assist providers with health care requirements for the Syrian refugees now arriving in Canada.

Health Links - Info Santé is a 24-hour, 7-days a week telephone information service. Staffed by registered nurses with the knowledge to provide answers over the phone to health care questions and guide you to the care you need.  The nurses that staff Health Links – Info Santé can access language interpreters by phone in order to provide medical advice and information to any caller, regardless of English or French proficiency. Call anytime 204-788-8200 or toll-free 1-888-315-9257.

Immunizations

For Syrian refugees with immunizations records, please use Manitoba’s Routine Immunization Schedule at: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/div/schedules.html

For refugees with no immunization records, please use the Immunizations Schedules for Those Not Previously Immunized at: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/cdc/div/not.html

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding immunizations, please consult your local Public Health Office: www.gov.mb.ca/health/publichealth/offices.html

Language Services

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Language Access program provides interpreter services 24/7 in-person, over-the-phone, or via MBTelehealth.  This service is provided at no cost to WRHA and WRHA-funded facilities, programs and services, CancerCare Manitoba, WRHA funded dental services, and fee-for-service physicians working within Winnipeg.

Language Access will also provide services to other RHAs on a cost-recovery basis and to fee-for-service physicians in rural areas as far as capacity will allow.  The Interim Federal Health Program may provide some coverage for interpreter services. For more information please visit: www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/outside/arriving-healthcare/practitioners.asp

In Brandon and surrounding areas, physicians can access services in-person through Brandon Community Language Centre. Further information can be found at: www.westmanimmigrantservices.ca/interpretation-services.html

Interim Federal Health Benefits

The Interim Federal Health Benefits (IFHP) is offered to both private and government sponsored refugees:

  • Basic coverage under the IFHP is available to refugees for up to one year OR until they are registered for a Manitoba Health Card.
  • Supplemental coverage (for things such as dental, vision, psychologists etc.) is available to refugees for up to one year.

Providers must be registered in order to directly bill the IFHP through Medavie Blue Cross. More information about registering is available at the following website: www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/outside/arriving-healthcare.asp

Screening

All Syrian refugees arriving to Canada from December 2015 to March 2016 will have an Immigration Medical Exam (IME) form completed and had some limited medical screening at their country of departure. This will include an inquiry of past medical history as well as a chest X-ray. HIV and Syphilis testing will occur overseas and upon arrival in Toronto or Montreal.

All Syrian refugees should receive an evidence-based health assessment and be offered screening bloodwork including: CBC, ALT, & fasting glucose or Hgb A1C (for 35 yrs and older) Hepatitis B: HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs (screen for chronic disease and test for immunity) Varicella Ig.

Screening for Chronic Disease should include a screen for CVD risk factors and disease, as well as FOB testing per age-appropriate guidelines.

Women’s health issues: All women of reproductive age should be asked about the possibility of pregnancy and their contraceptive needs.  All women should be screened for cervical cancer with a pap test according to CervixCheck guidelines.  Women ages 50- 74 should be offered a screening mammogram via BreastCheck.

Mental Health

Refugees may be at risk for mental health and substance misuse issues due to traumatic war-related experiences and their displacement. This can include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic symptoms and addiction. Often the symptoms related to these issues may not surface immediately after arrival, but months or years after arriving in Canada.

If a person is functioning and doing well, it is recommended that service providers do not inquire about traumatic experiences.  However, providers should be alert to signs and symptoms of post-traumatic symptoms and other mental health and addiction issues or illnesses in this population. The following resources have been developed for service providers working with refugees to increase awareness of the signs of distress in children, youth and adults; how to respond and where referrals can be made to access formal mental health and addiction services:

Further Information

A helpful population profile of Syrian refugees can be found at: