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Waitaha Canterbury Refugee Health launched

Wednesday, April 3, 2024   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: migrants, refugees, health, services

Pegasus Health recently launched its Refugee Health Service - a confidential and FREE health service helping former refugees access healthcare in Christchurch and Ashburton.

General Manager Patient and Provider Services, Pegasus Health Lisa Brennan says the service has a community-based approach.

“At Pegasus we aim to reduce inequity and remove barriers by having competent and well-funded wrap-around services. The service is based on the feedback we received from the former refugee communities and those who support them in health and social services.”

The service has set a national benchmark, expanding the eligibility criteria to include refugee groups beyond the annual quota refugees, ensuring broader access to health services, including for harder-to-reach populations, she says.

CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) Health Manager Ester Vallero and Refugee Health Service Team Lead Sahra Ahmed from Pegasus Health urged other refugee services nationwide to adopt this benchmark eligibility criteria, replicating the success achieved in Christchurch and Ashburton to benefit former refugees across the country.

Hauora Maori Manager at Pegasus Health Kimi Jackson shared a touching whakataukī at the launch, highlighting the challenges faced by former refugees who did not choose to leave their homeland.

Korihi te manu, takiri mai I te ata. Ka ao, ka ao. Tihei mauri ora.
The bird sings, the morning has dawned. The day has broken. Behold there is life.

Just like manu (birds) that are sure to sing when morning breaks, so does the life and everyday activities of all those that are here in Aotearoa, Kimi says – an appropriate sentiment to launch the service for those who are beginning again.

“What a wonderful service we have in our Refugee Health team to have kaimahi that can help taurewa (refugees) create a life of their choice in a whenua that is new and not necessarily their first choice.”

Over the last five years, the Refugee Health Services team has grown from one to 10 members. The team offers a confidential and free service for six months, or longer if necessary. The support includes help with general practice (GP) enrolments, guidance through initial GP appointments, interpretation services, and assistance in accessing various health services including pharmacies, labs, maternity care, optometry, dental care and other health-related support as needed.

The Refugee Health Service marks an important step in supporting former refugees in their journey here in Aotearoa.

Find out more about the Waitaha Canterbury Refugee Health Service.