At the end of 2019, approximately 79.5 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. Washington State is consistently among the top five states with the highest refugee populations, most from Burma, Bhutan, the Former Soviet Union, Iraq and Eritrea. The long journey of a refugee results in many ignored or otherwise unmet health needs that begin at their country of origin and continue during their time in refugee camps. In the United States, refugees become legal citizens gaining Medicaid coverage, and go through a comprehensive medical assessment. However, this assessment does not require a comprehensive oral health exam.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped all of our lives. However, the DeRouen Center team managed to continue collaborations with World Relief, DOH, DSHS and HCA. In the last few months, we teamed up with ARCORA Foundation to develop oral health-training modules for refugee caseworkers and care navigators. With our current collaboration with World Relief, a non-profit refugee resettlement organization, we hope to bring this training to their attention and ask for their advice in shaping the curriculum to refugees resettling to the United States. We believe this partnership will lead to further training for World Relief caseworkers and bring more oral health care access to the refugee community in the Seattle area.