February 6, 2017
Canadian newcomers and recent immigrants have high rates of unemployment and are over-represented in precarious and vulnerable employment.
Provincial health plans do not cover the cost of prescription drugs and with higher levels of unemployment and precarious jobs many people do not have extended health benefits like drug plans.
Linguistic and cultural barriers
There are a number of linguistic and cultural barriers to medical care for immigrants and newcomers. Immigrants and newcomers may hesitate to engage with the system due to language barriers and cultural unfamiliarity.
In some immigrant communities, there is a strong stigma attached to blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis C. Stigma is primarily linked with the fear of contagion, which results from a lack of understanding about hepatitis C transmission. Stigma can reduce the likelihood of accessing testing and care.
Stigma can also be related to one's immigration status, which can have a direct bearing on one's ability to access care. People who are medically uninsured due to their immigration status, like undocumented persons or refugees whose appeals have been rejected, find it difficult to get the care they need
Changing Canadian demographics and the high prevalence of hepatitis C in immigrants and newcomers requires frontline workers and service providers to shift their understanding of hepatitis C. Here are some practical ideas.
Frontline service providers can:
Clinical Guidelines Checklist for New Immigrants and Refugees (Canadian Collaboration for Immigrants and Newcomers) -- an eLearning knowledge translation tool designed for primary care practitioners to help integrate the Canadian Immigrant Health Guidelines into practice
Hepatitis C and Immigrants and Newcomers (CATIE) -- hepatitis C resources for service providers working with immigrants and newcomers from countries where hepatitis C virus is endemic.
Fozia Tanveer is CATIE's Knowledge Broker, Immigrant and Newcomer Hepatitis C Community Health Programming. She has been working with CATIE's Hepatitis C Ethnocultural Education and Outreach Program since 2011 and has a Master's of Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
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