Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease have been more traditionally viewed as problems of developed countries, but refugees from eastern European and developing nations may actually be at greater risk due to lack of diagnosis and treatment for many years. Chronic exposure to smoke or noxious fumes from cooking fires and industrial pollution may lead to high levels of COPD and asthma, particularly in children and women. In addition, refugees have usually not received adequate cancer screening in the past and therefore should undergo standard recommended screening tests for cervical, breast, colon, and other cancers. The high prevalence of hepatitis B and H. pylori infections also creates increased risk for liver and stomach cancers while untreated Schistosomiasis can lead to bladder cancer.

Learn more about specific conditions:

1. Eckstein, B. Primary Care for Refugees. American Family Physician, Feb 2011. 83 (4): 429-436.

2. Immigrant and Refugee Health, CDC website. Available at
3. Stauffer, W, Weinberg, M. Emerging clinical issues in refugees. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, 2009. 22: 436-442.