SASKATOON – With 14 Syrian refugees scheduled to arrive in Saskatoon in the coming days, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is preparing doctors for an influx of vulnerable patients. Chronic diseases, outdated immunizations and mental health issues are expected among many of the people fleeing Syria.
“They experience what we call the ‘triple traumatization effect’ … where there’s the traumatic event, there’s the uprooting and there’s the resettlement process,” said physician Yvonne Blonde, who is also a member of the SMA.
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The SMA and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan sent a letter to doctors in the province earlier this week, urging them to help provide health services for refugees.
Doctors from the Middle East, doctors who speak Arabic and doctors who have experience helping refugees are particularly valuable, according to an SMA news release.
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Refugees arrive in Canada following health screenings conducted by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
“Both the refugees and those who are sponsoring them and supporting them are going to be very, very busy from the point of arrival, for essentially the first year,” said University of Saskatchewan political studies professor Joe Garcea.
Newcomers will spend some of that time getting social insurance numbers, bank accounts, employment and other services, Garcea said.
The Government of Saskatchewan is preparing for a minimum of 800 to 850 refugees to arrive in the province by the end of February, as part of the federal government’s pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.