Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
Christine Grant |
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New Jersey Awarded Refugee Settlement Funding
TRENTON -- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services has
been awarded $262,000 in funding for its Refugee Health Program from the
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Settlement
- a 65 percent funding increase over previous years.
"For the last four years, the average number of refugees resettling in New Jersey numbered about 1,600 per year - with only about 37 percent completing the required health exam within 90 days of their arrival," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant. "The department's goal is to raise the percentage of refugees examined in this time frame up to 65 percent - and this additional funding should help us get there."
Refugees from Africa, East Asia, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe,
Latin America and the Middle East account for more than half the refugees
arriving in New Jersey each year.
New Jersey's program will now be able to provide initiatives to help raise compliance with the goals of the Refugee Health Program, from providing health service grants at various sites around the state to offering foreign language interpreters to helping refugees understand the local system, and increasing medical case management.
Refugees arriving in New Jersey often find it difficult to navigate through the health care system because they are faced with cultural and linguistic barriers. As a result, they are unable to meet the federal and state requirement of completing a domestic health exam.
"While refugees are screened overseas for medical conditions that would exclude them from our country, these tests can be inaccurate and do not always cover all of the conditions that concern our public health," said Dr. Bresnitz. "And there is sometimes a time delay from when the refugee was tested and when that person arrives in the U.S."
Six of the 12 Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) sites in New Jersey - where many refugees receive their health care - will $10,000 each in funding to help alleviate administrative costs and provide domestic health screening services.
The sites were selected based on the numbers of refugees identified in the FQHC service area. They are: Henry J. Austin Health Center, Trenton; Plainfield Health Center; Newark Community Health Centers; CamCare Health Corp., Camden; North Hudson Community Health Center, West New York; and Paterson Community Health Center.
The Refugee Health Program will also be able to use an interpreter and translating service with access to professionally trained interpreters who are fluent in over 50 languages. Their services range from helping a refugee schedule a medical appointment to eliminating language barriers that may prevent proper medical care.
A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country because of a well-founded
fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, social
group, or political opinion. According to the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR), the world refugee population in 2000 was estimated
to be 14.5 million. Refugees are of every race and religion and can be
found in every part of the world. Refugees reflect the measurement of
the world's political and social problems.
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