refugee health

You Asked: COVID-19 information for Burmese immigrants

Jul 21, 2020
courtesy of Kelly Harper Berkson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Side Effects is answering questions from our audience about the virus. To reach a larger audience, we’ve translated some of this material into Spanish.

courtesy of Kelly Harper Berkson

courtesy of Kelly Harper Berkson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Side Effects is answering questions from our audience about the virus. To reach a larger audience, we've partnered with Indiana University linguistics professor Kelly Harper Berkson and the Chin Languages Research Project to provide information to the Burmese-American community.

courtesy of Kelly Harper Berkson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Side Effects is answering questions from our audience about the virus. To reach a larger audience, we've partnered with Indiana University linguistics professor Kelly Harper Berkson and the Chin Languages Research Project to provide information to the Burmese-American community.

courtesy of Kelly Harper Berkson

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Side Effects is answering questions from our audience about the virus. We're partnering with Indiana University linguistics professor Kelly Harper Berkson and the Chin Languages Research Project to provide information to the Burmese-American community. IU students Peng Hlei Thang and Kimberly Sakhong provided the translation.

Ahodah hneksaknak aa tuah kho?

CREDIT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As national and state leaders struggle to get COVID-19 under control, minority groups are at a higher risk for the virus. And that includes Indianapolis’ Burmese refugees, a tight-knit community. But providing these refugees with accurate information about the virus has been a challenge for public health workers. 

Courtesy of Erik Martin

When physician Erik Martin left his home in southwest Missouri to help with New York’s COVID-19 outbreak in April, his county had fewer than 10 confirmed cases of the virus. Now he’s back — and watching those numbers skyrocket. More than 400 Jasper County residents have tested positive, and more than 800 are in quarantine.

“I never expected that within such a short period of time, my home town would become a COVID hotspot, as it has now," Martin says. He was alarmed when he learned a patient who tested positive worked at the Butterball poultry processing plant in nearby Carthage. After seeing a second Butterball worker, Martin alerted the county health department to the potential outbreak.

Natalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media

Figuring out America’s healthcare system can be hard for anyone. It can be especially challenging for refugees, who often face significant language and cultural barriers. But one group is trying to bridge that gap by training refugees as health navigators in their own communities.


Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Deepa Halaharvi is a morning person.

"Eat, read, pray, and get ready to go to work," she says, laughing. "And usually I’m out the door around 6:15 or 6:30."

Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media

Refugees face unique challenges to getting mental health care in the United States. Cultural differences, stigma and language barriers can make finding treatment difficult. 

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