Medical community reaches out to refugees in Houston

April 13, 2013 8:35:57 PM PDT
A group of people from across the world received medical help on Saturday in southwest Houston. They came in need of basic health care, and what they were shown, they say, was so much more than they expected.

These families are receiving normal health screenings, but they are not normal patients.

"They're from all over the world. We have people here from Burma, from Nepal, from Congo, from Eritrea, from Iraq, and many other countries," health fair organizer David Savage said.

They are here in the Houston area as refugees, and health professionals and students -- people like Savage -- have helped arrange their care.

"The goal is to find people who might have health problems that have not been noticed before and to get them plugged into the health care system," Savage said.

"I appreciate all this stuff because they are good and they help us with what to do. I like them, I appreciate what they are doing," said Fissaha Nerie, a refugee from Eritrea.

Nerie is thankful he could bring his family for the kind of health care he would never have had access to in his home country.

"They have more materials and I've never seen like this before," he said.

The screenings cover basic mental and physical health, and nutrition. They're done by volunteers with a special desire to reach out to this unique population of new Houstonians.

"We have medical students here today, we have dental students here today, as well as pharmacy students, so it's been a great collaboration to serve our community," health fair organizer Erika Wood said.

Iraqi refugee Thaer Albanee couldn't agree more.

"I think it's great that they're able to help us refugees coming from all over the world. They check our health and they make sure we're all right, and they check me and my daughter and everybody else's health," Albanee said through a translator.

The services were provided through a partnership of medical students at UTHealth, University of Houston College of Pharmacy and Alliance for Multicultural Community Services.

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