Su-Yun Kim and her husband, like many refugees, fled persecution and arrived in Canada hoping for a better life. The young family escaped North Korea via China, due to their political involvement. We met at a refugee shelter where we provided prenatal care to pregnant Su-Yun. Her family was extremely grateful to receive our care and attention after the tremendous hardships they had experienced.
Recently, Jason Kenney has proposed drastic changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) — the program that allowed Su-Yun to receive care. These changes aim to deny access to essential medicines for all refugees and claimants, deny basic healthcare to those deemed to come from a “safe country,” and are a poor policy decision for then 10 reasons we outline here.
1. Worse health outcomes for refugees.
Numerous organizations and health professionals have expressed concern over negative health impacts on refugees. Pregnant women, children and those with chronic diseases will have poorer health outcomes. The prevalence of physical (e.g. diabetes) and mental (e.g. depression) conditions will increase. Some will not even be treated for heart attacks!
2. A threat to the health and safety of Canadians.
While the policy purports to provide care for conditions threatening public health, these conditions will likely remain undiagnosed until it is too late. Without primary care, dangerous contagious conditions like tuberculosis, normally diagnosed through screening chest X-rays and skin tests, can go undiagnosed for long periods of time.