Refugee Health and infectious diseases

Dr Kudzai Kanhutu1, Prof Bev Biggs2,

1 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital  Melbourne VIC 3000

2 University of Melbourne Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Melbourne VIC 300


The scale and scope of the current global refugee and asylum seeker is unprecedented.

By the end of 2015 there were an estimated 65.3 million displaced persons worldwide. Over half of these people are under the age of 18.

The Syrian civil war is exemplary of the deadly interplay between infectious diseases and the asylum seeker exodus. Since 2011 childhood vaccination coverage has plummeted below 50% as public health infrastructure is decimated.

This unrelenting movement of large populations of people undergoing protracted periods of fragmented or absent healthcare is cause for concern from a humanitarian and infection prevention perspective.

In this session we explore the literature on refugee populations and infectious disease epidemiology.

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