refugee health

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. And now, 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. 

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. 

Who Are Refugees And Immigrants?

Apr 23, 2019

Throughout 2019, Side Effects will examine the health care challenges that refugees and immigrants face in the United States. Language barriers, cultural misunderstandings and our complex bureaucracy can interfere with effective care.

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is someone forced to flee their country because of persecution, war or violence. The persecution can be due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia/Side Effects Public Media

At a pediatric clinic in Kirksville, Mo., a young boy is waiting in an exam room to be vaccinated. A nurse explains the shots to his mother, and Lisette Chibanvunya translates.

Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media

Kazito Kalima was 14 at the start of the Rwandan genocide. Over just a few months in 1994, hundreds of thousands of Tutsi people in his country were killed, including most of his family.

Why A US Health Clinic Suggests Cambodian Treatments For Everyday Maladies

Mar 16, 2016
Women gather to meditate at the Metta Health Center in Lowell MA.
Heidi Shin / PRI

Doctors at a health clinic in Lowell, Massachusetts, had a problem — their exam rooms reminded refugee patients of torture chambers. The stethoscopes, the blood pressure cuff squeezing your arm — they looked like the torture devices used on their families, during Cambodia’s genocide.


Rebecca Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

Laldin Liana, a recently-arrived refugee, sits in his doctor’s office in Columbia, Missouri, talking about his life – his favorite Jason Statham movies, life in Myanmar and his three children. He’s speaking with two nursing students from the University of Missouri, who are here to help him navigate his appointment.

Son and mother featured in the story
Alex Smith / KCUR

It’s always a struggle to resettle in a new country, but for Bhutanese refugees, the challenge has been especially difficult. Bhutan, a largely Buddhist country, is known for having created a ‘national happiness index,’ but it has also forced out many of its ethnically Nepali, mostly Hindu, population. Since arriving in the United States, many of these refugees have suffered serious mental health issues.