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A Rohingya refugee’s journey in Australia and the barriers to accessing healthcare


Australia’s processing of some asylum seekers on offshore detention centres has recently been brought to light by human rights organisation. While the internal politics of resettling refugees may be complex, Australia remains in the top five countries for resettlement per capita. However, these refugees remain a vulnerable patient population after immigrating. Refugee women, an understudied group, in particular experience higher adverse health outcomes.

In this case report, we follow the medical journey of KB, a 38-year-old Rohingya refugee diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus—the crux of all her health issues. We explore language differences as a barrier to healthcare and its near-fatal consequences, as well as communication breakdown in the context of the misalignment of health goals between the patient and the profession. As such, improving patient health literacy and cultural competency among doctors are core interventions in improving the delivery of refugee healthcare.

We have a global responsibility to improve health literacy among refugee patients and by providing the basic standard of healthcare to every individual as a human right, which empower refugees in this regard to have a role in their health outcomes.

  • global health
  • endocrinology

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