The world is facing one of the worst migration crises in recent history. At the end of 2018, 70.8 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. Within the United States of America, Washington State resettles the second largest number of refugees. During the resettlement process, refugees are insured through Medicaid and must receive a comprehensive health assessment. However, oral health assessments are not completed or adequately addressed during this process.
In June 2019, we began our conversations with SeaMar Community Health Center Clinics to conduct formative research to develop a project, which aims to integrate comprehensive and culturally appropriate oral health services within existing community health clinics serving refugees. Results from this initial development will be used to pilot an interventional study that seeks to demonstrate the feasibility and sustainability of integrating oral health within the standard of medical care assessment within the refugee resettlement process.
In the Fall of 2019, the DeRouen Center for Global Health and SeaMar Community Health Center Clinics will apply for the Robert Wood Johnson grant for pioneering ideas for this project. Our overarching goal is to create policy change by integrating oral health screening into the mandatory medical assessment that refugees receive after their arrival to the United States. The DeRouen Center is very excited for the community collaboration with SeaMar Community Health Center Clinics and establishing our Seattle site, which is dedicated to health advocacy, outreach and policy for the refugee populations in Washington State.