Current Obstacles Present for Immigrants’ in Health Care

The challenges faced by immigrants are countless; language barriers, employment, housing, cultural issues and the list just goes on. But the most concerning challenge they face in my opinion is their access to healthcare. As we all know, the greatest wealth is health and not maintaining good health could have severe repercussions. Minnesota medicine published a paper called “Barriers to healthcare for immigrants and nonimmigrants: a comparative study” in 1998.

The abstract of this paper is written below.

“A survey asked medical social workers and visiting public health nurses to identify health problems and to compare barriers to health care experienced by immigrants and nonimmigrants. Respondents considered infectious diseases a more significant problem for immigrants; they saw alcohol and chemical dependency as more problematic for nonimmigrants. They identified language barriers and the need for trained interpreters as barriers for immigrants only. The survey confirmed widely held assumptions that cultural barriers are more problematic for immigrants. Participants identified 16 of 18 health services as more available for nonimmigrants.”

From this abstract they’re are many conclusions that we can draw that the problems faced by immigrants are more grave than nonimmigrants. Infectious diseases are definitely more life-threatening than alcohol and chemical dependency and harder to get treatment for.

The graph below shows the most serious problems for immigrants after landing.

Contrary to popular beliefs about language barriers being a primary reason for why healthcare is inaccessible to immigrants’, this graph shows that’s not the case. The primary reason for why health care is inaccessible to immigrants’ is the long wait to see professionals according to the graph and it seems that this problem gets worse after landing. It’s more troublesome for immigrants’ to wait for a long time to see professionals because their limited English proficiency and inadequate knowledge of healthcare in Canada leaves them clueless and helpless when they face this type of problem.

The solution that I’m proposing to this problem is for health professionals to self-educate themselves about the patient, be a resource and a liaison, build trust and communicate openly. Self-educating themselves about the patient can be done by looking into the patient’s medical background and their immigration status. Being a resource and a liaison can be done by providing staff with knowledge about the culture of the patient and helping patients navigate the health system of Canada. Building trust can be done by providing flexible appointments and printed reminders to improve patient attendance. Communicating openly can be done by raising cultural awareness and understanding the importance of translators.

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