Refugee Health Initiative

The mission of the Refugee Health Initiative (RHI) is to provide longitudinal in home health education and improve access to care for refugee families in Durham, NC.

The Refugee Health Initiative was initially started by a group of graduate and professional students at the University of North Carolina with support from the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and the goal of addressing health and wellness needs within the refugee population in the Triangle area. We have expanded this program to Duke in order to provide additional services and support to refugees located in Durham. RHI partners with Church World Service (CWS) to identify recently emigrated refugees and to match volunteers to refugees in order to provide longitudinal in home health information and navigation sessions.

Volunteers are matched with their refugee partners and meet with their partners in their homes for approximately 6-10 sessions. An initial, conversational assessment is done for the first visit to identify needs and health concerns with their families as well as to discuss expectation from their partners. The program goals include:

  • linkage/facilitation to medical and dental care
  • orientation to American health care system
  • health education and assistance in healthy behavior in the following topics:
    • proper use of medication
    • exercise
    • nutrition
    • reproductive health behavior
    • mental health
    • dental health

We recruit volunteers at the beginning of each semester.