Innovative Partnerships Addressing Health and Food Insecurity Among Refugees in Crisis
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The 2021 Afghanistan crisis caused the displacement of over 700,000 Afghans. Out of the roughly 3500 refugees who arrived in the Tampa Bay area in 2021, several hundred were Afghans. The sudden influx of new arrivals contributed to a backlog of cases and further exacerbated barriers to healthcare, food, housing, and transportation for an already-oppressed population. The Tampa Bay Refugee Clinic, a medical student-run free clinic, is helping solve food insecurity and lapses in healthcare through partnerships with organizations working to provide housing and transportation. The Refugee Clinic worked closely with local agencies to offer free prescriptions, labs, imaging, and psychological services for Afghan arrivals, including enrollment of pediatric patients for the first time. The Clinic worked with a food-based non-profit to launch the “Food as Medicine” program, through which patients are given produce and non-perishables during every appointment. Resettlement agencies increased volunteer recruitment and fundraised to provide housing and transportation. This collective effort to provide comprehensive services that meet the acute physical and psychosocial needs of displaced Afghans demonstrated resilience and humanistic medicine.
- Richa Bisht, USF Refugee Clinic Co-Director, Refugee Clinic, USF Morsani College of Medicine