Tertiary paediatric refugee health clinic in Western Australia: Analysis of the first 1026 children

Raewyn C. Mutch, Sarah Cherian, Kuria Nemba, Janet S. Geddes, David M. Rutherford, Gervase M. Chaney, David P. Burgner

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Aim: Children account for approximately half of the humanitarian refugees currently resettled in Australia. A multidisciplinary refugee health clinic (RHC) was established at the tertiary paediatric hospital in Western Australia to address burgeoning referrals of refugee children following voluntary post-resettlement health assessment. The aim of this study is to describe the epidemiology of common conditions in resettled paediatric refugees attending a tertiary multidisciplinary RHC. Methods: Standardised clinical and demographic data were routinely collected during first visit clinical assessment at the RHC. Descriptive analyses of the first 1026 children are presented. Results: One thousand twenty-six refugee children from 475 families and over 30 different ethnicities were described. Nine hundred twenty-seven (90.4%) children were referred following post-resettlement health assessment. Median age was 7.8 years. Common reasons for referral were: vitamin D deficiency (400, 39%), iron deficiency (226, 22%), positive Helicobacter pylori serology (206, 21%), poor appetite (175, 17.1%), and schistosomiasis (170, 16.6%). Comorbidities identified by the RHC included tinea capitis and corporis (297, 28.9%), and dental disease (228, 22.2%). Two-thirds of children (680, 66.3%) had at least one abnormal finding on clinical examination that identified pathologies that were not evident from the history. Three hundred eighty children (37%) were referred to sub-specialty services. Conclusions: A multidisciplinary paediatric RHC facilitated and strengthened the management of refugee children with multiple and complex health needs. Evidenced-based culturally appropriate methods to identify developmental delay, psychological morbidity and quantify social needs of this vulnerable population remain uncertain. These findings are relevant to the continuing evolution of paediatric refugee health care in Australia and other high income countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-587
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • children
  • model of care
  • post-resettlement health assessment
  • refugee

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