20 March 2018.

The latest issue of our online, open access, peer reviewed journal, Public Health Research & Practice, puts the spotlight on improving refugee health. Articles in the issue focus on the importance of collaboration in improving refugee health and wellbeing outcomes – how countries, governments health services and practitioners can work together, with relationships based on trust and communication.

The co-guest editors of the issue are Professor Mark Harris, Executive Director of the Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity at the University of New South Wales, and Dr Mitchell Smith, Director of the NSW Refugee Health Service.

In a qualitative interview study, researchers find that asylum seekers face significant problems in transitioning from specialised health services to mainstream primary care. Contributing factors include the complexity of health and immigration systems, deficiencies in the transition process, and lack of understanding and accommodation of asylum seekers by some mainstream general practitioner services.

In a perspective article, Professor Harris describes how current settlement arrangements in Australia can lead to refugees missing out on appropriate healthcare that meets their often complex needs. He says there is an urgent need for more integrated health services for people from refugee backgrounds, including improved communication between providers and better transition of care between services. This will require change at the practice, local service and system level.

The issue also includes an interview with Professor Peter Shergold, the Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement in NSW. In this interview, Professor Shergold identifies priorities for the successful settlement of refugees in Australia, including access to employment opportunities. An ‘In practice’ article by specialists from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection outlines the importance of intergovernmental collaboration in improving health outcomes during the settlement process. And a perspective article outlines Canada’s healthcare responses for the refugee population. In 2016, Canada resettled 55 800 refugees, comprising 33, 200 Syrians. The influx of Syrian refugees provided an opportunity to test the responsiveness of existing primary health care, health practitioner and interpreter training, and evidence-based approaches in Canada.

Finally, a research article describes the blood screen findings in a cohort of newly arrived refugees to Sydney and shows that people of refugee backgrounds have differing risks of conditions based on demographics, migration history and prior screening.

Non-themed articles in the issue include research that suggests better access to Australia’s rich cross-jurisdictional data can improve understanding of the interplay between hospital and community care; an investigation into the increased demand on psychostimulant-related health services in an inner-city hospital in NSW; and a study examining the rate of violence-related injuries among paramedics, which increased from 6 to 12 cases per million ambulance calls per year over a decade.

PHRP is Australia’s first online-only open access peer-reviewed public health journal, published by the Sax Institute with a strong focus on the connection between research, policy and practice.

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