The DSHS Refugee Health Screening Program operates with funds from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
The program supports local health departments in principal refugee resettlement areas with resources to provide health assessments to newly arrived official Refugees, Amerasian-immigrants, Cuban and Haitian parolees/entrants, certain Afghanis and Iraqis with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), asylees, and victims of severe forms of trafficking (VoTs). Eligibility for services is within 90 days of arrival in the U.S., date granted asylum, or date certified as a VoT. The ideal timeframe is to provide a health assessment within 30 days, or less, after arrival or eligibility.
Multi-lingual outreach and clinic interpreter support is available, and provided by health program or resettlement agency staff, contracted interpreter support, and/or telephone interpreting services.
The program screens for communicable disease-related conditions, including tuberculosis, HIV, Syphilis, intestinal parasites (including treatment), and hepatitis. The program also provides immunizations, a general physical assessment, in order to identify, educate, and refer for other health problems that would impede the refugee resettlement process, or be of significant personal consequence. All program-contracted health departments are guided by the ORR Medical Screening Protocol for Newly Arriving Refugees and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 'Refugee Health Guidelines' . All local health departments should perform tuberculosis testing and evaluation on newly arrived refugees and immigrants as a high-risk group, update immunizations, and refer or enroll new arrivals into programs for which they are eligible to receive services. All refugees are eligible for Medicaid upon arrival in the United States.
The program also collects and evaluates data on the results of health screening efforts. Various health education materials in other languages are available, or can be developed or ordered.
Approximately 9,000 official Refugees and other eligible clients arrive in Texas annually. Official refugees are persons unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to persecution or a well founded fear of persecution based on a person’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion Since the program's inception, the numbers from Vietnam (once a majority of arrivals) have declined, and those from Africa (Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Somalia, Sudan), and Iraq (Kurdish) have increased. Historically, arrivals also have come from the former Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine), other countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean (Cuba, Haiti). Currently, principal arrival populations include Burmese, Bhutanese, and Iraqis. Sixty or more countries may be represented any one year.
The three major settlement areas for these arrivals are in the Houston, Dallas, and Fort Worth areas. These three areas combined ordinarily receive about 70% of all refugee arrivals to Texas. Smaller but regular numbers of refugees also arrive in and are served by local programs in Potter County (Amarillo), Travis County (Austin), Taylor County (Abilene), and Bexar County (San Antonio).