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Interior Health Prepares for arrival of Syrian Refugees

With up to 400 Syrian refugees arriving within the Interior over the next three months, the local health authority says it is preparing.

Interior Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Trevor Corneil says although they have primarily been working with stakeholders in larger cities, that could change.

“If a family or a group of families or an agency decides they would like to support a refugee, then that refugee will end up arriving in those communities so we are making sure that everyone has the tools to make sure they can support people as they arrive.”

Corneil says about 1,500 refugees and immigrants, as well as 10,000 temporary workers, arrive to the Interior Health region each year.

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He says that their Population Health department has been working with physicians and stakeholders to develop a response plan.

“What we do know about the Syrian refugees is that they will come with what are standard chronic diseases that Canadians face, but they haven’t had particularly good health care in all regions in the last couple of years because of the conflict.”

The screening that is done by the federal government, according to Corneil is limited to specific infectious diseases and does not always identify major health problems such as chronic heart disease.

The Williams Lake Refugee Sponsorship Group that formed on Nov. 30 is expected to update Mayor and Council of their efforts to sponsor refugees to the area on Tuesday.

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