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Health Needs of Refugee Children Younger Than 5 Years Arriving in New Zealand

Rungan, Santuri MB ChB*; Reeve, Antony Martin MB ChB; Reed, Peter W. DPhil*; Voss, Lesley MB ChB*

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: December 2013 - Volume 32 - Issue 12 - p e432–e436
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3182a11526
Original Studies

Background: New Zealand accepts 750 refugees annually who enter via the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

Aims: To evaluate the health needs of refugee children less than 5 years of age.

Methods: Retrospective audit on the outcomes of health screening and referrals in children less than 5 years of age at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre between 2007 and 2011.

Results: Of the 343 children, the most common infectious diseases were latent tuberculosis (15%) and parasitic infections (15%). In those older than 1 year old who had rubella and measles serology information, immunity was found in 50% and 59%, respectively. Hepatitis B immunity was found in 68%. Complete vaccination certificates were available for 66% on arrival to New Zealand. Vaccinations were administered to 73% while at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. Iron deficiency and vitamin D deficiency were the main noninfectious diseases found and were present in 33% and 12%, respectively. The total requiring referral for further medical assessment or support was 58% with 19% requiring referral to more than one service.

Conclusions: Screening identified health needs in otherwise asymptomatic newly arriving refugee children. A proportion of children required access to multiple specialized medical services and may benefit from a comprehensive pediatric service.

From the *Starship Children’s Hospital; and Auckland Regional Public Health Service, Auckland, New Zealand.

Accepted for publication June 18, 2013.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Santuri Rungan, MB ChB, Starship Children’s Hospital, 99 Grafton Road, Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand, 1010. E-mail: santurir@windowslive.com.

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.