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Is Medical Protocol at Border Patrol Facilities Sufficient?

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CBP officer lets detainees out of holding area.


Who is responsible for the health and wellbeing of refugee-seeking families in detention at the US-Mexico border? At least three children have died of influenza while in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, yet the CBP has declined to provide influenza vaccines. Meanwhile, in the past month, the Trump Administration has suspended of the Flores Settlement, paving the way for much longer periods of detention. Simultaneously, a new rule forces refugee seekers to wait for their court date in Mexico, despite many having direct family members in the US. As a result, and with limited resources, many were forced to stay on the streets or in shelters instead of in a relative’s home, in border regions where kidnapping and extortion runs rampant. Yesterday, a federal judge blocked that rule -- again altering conditions for refugees.

Amidst this rapidly shifting and confusing detention landscape, MCN’s Chief Medical Officer, Laszlo Madaras, MD, MPH, began to reflect on his work at a massive, yet organized refugee camp at the Rwandan border after the 1994 genocide. He recalls serious attention to public health -- an attention not shown at today’s US border. Today, STAT News published his opinion piece, entitled, “What the US Can Learn from Rwandan Refugee Camps: Treat Public Health Seriously.

Here’s an excerpt:

“If the Trump administration is formally changing how long children and families seeking asylum will stay in detention facilities, then it needs to urgently, immediately, and transparently revise its medical protocol for those forced to live in these facilities to protect public health and provide basic humanitarian aid, just as was done in refugee camps decades ago and thousands of miles away. This includes basic vaccinations as well as providing culturally responsive medical care. It will be expensive, but it is an absolutely essential step if children are to be detained for long periods of time.”

Read Dr. Madaras’ entire op-ed on the STAT News site:

We invite you to share this article with friends and colleagues, and continue the conversation on how to protect the health and wellbeing of refugees and border communities. Visit MCN’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and share the article!


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