Date of Award

7-27-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Kymberle L. Sterling, DrPH - Chair

Second Advisor

Ike S. Okosun, MS, MPH, PhD, FRIPH, FRSH

Third Advisor

Russ Toal, MPH

Abstract

Introduction: It is estimated that as many as 17,000 Burmese refugees will enter into the United States (U.S.) in 2009 (USDOS, 2009). Many of these refugees will arrive in Georgia, as many as 80% of which will resettle in DeKalb County. Majority of these refugees will be of Karen ethnicity, an ethnic minority comprising 7% of the Myanmar population. Myanmar’s economic struggles, history of civil war, social injustices, and political crisis have led many of its residents to flee persecution seeking refuge in the U.S. Conflict also impacts the health status of Myanmar. In the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ranking of the health status of individual countries, Myanmar ranked almost last. Due to the poor health outcomes of individuals living in Myanmar and the Refugee camps in Thailand, it can be expected that the refugees entering the U.S. will have significant health problems. Aim: The purpose of this capstone was to provide a resource for the Karen in DeKalb County so that they may have a link to necessary personal health services that may have otherwise been unavailable, and inform educate and empower these individuals about health issues that impact them. Methods: A needs assessment of the target population was conducted, and interviews of three trained health promoters from the Karen community in DeKalb County were used to gain insight into the needs of newly arriving refugees Results: Karen refugees often enter the U.S. with a host of health problems, but lack knowledge surrounding navigation of the U.S. healthcare system. Discussion: The findings of the review of literature and interviews of Karen refugees in the community supports the assumption that a resource manual is needed to assist the Karen refugees residing in DeKalb County, and has the potential to positively impact the resettlement process and improve health for these individuals. In addition, results suggest that categories of health chosen for inclusion in the manual were in line with the needs of the Karen refugees.

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