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Pennsylvania Refugee Health Program

Refugee --A person who is outside his or her country of nationality and who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution, based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugees legally enter the U.S. in search of freedom, peace, and opportunity for themselves and their families. Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled approximately 2.6 million refugees.

The U.S. Federal Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted to create a uniform system of service for refugees migrating to the U.S.  The Act entitles all newly arriving refugees to a comprehensive health assessment.

The rationale of providing health screening to all newly arriving refugees is (1) forced migration may expose people to a host of health and mental health risk factors, (2) there are challenges of coming from the region of the world with high rates of certain diseases and different health care delivery from the Western world, and (3) providing health screening at arrival and during the resettling period prevents communicable diseases and protects the health of the Commonwealth population.

The federal Refugee Preventive Health Program (within the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement) provides grants to States and their designated health agencies to provide medical screenings in accordance with the Medical Screening Protocol for Newly Arriving Refugees and follow-up activities to those newly arrived refugees.

Pennsylvania's Refugee Health Program
The mission/goal of the Refugee Health Program is to ensure that refugee arrivals receive a comprehensive health assessment as soon as possible after entry into the U.S. for the protection of public health against communicable diseases, as well as to identify and treat health conditions or health-related issues that could delay successful resettlement.

Refugee Health Assessment Primary Components are:
Medical history and physical examination
Tuberculosis screening
Hepatitis screening
Sexually Transmitted Infections & HIV screening
Intestinal Parasite screening
Mental/behavioral health screening
Specialist referrals and any needed follow-up


About Our Work and Partners

Learn about Refugee Health Program partners, immigration definitions, and ongoing activities sponsored by the program and Pennsylvania Refugee Resettlement Program.

PA Refugee Resettlement Program 

Refugee Voluntary Agency (VOLAG) List  

Refugee Health Statistics

Demographic and health screening data for annual refugee arrivals to Pennsylvania.   

Current Medical Providers

Resources for refugees to obtain a listing of health organizations that have signed an agreement with the Refugee Health Program to administer health assessments.    

PPA Application Information

A Participating Provider Agreement (PPA) is a legal and binding agreement used by the Refugee Health Program to pay for refugee health assessment/screening services based on a fee schedule. By signing a PPA, the provider agrees to deliver services as set forth in the PPA.  Services are reimbursed based on the Reimbursement Rates identified on the fee for service schedule which delineates the approved procedure and the maximum allowable fee.   

Health Education Materials for Refugees

Health education materials available for refugees, health professionals, and VOLAGs in multiple languages. 

Refugee Health Information Network  

For additional information or inquiries, please contact the following program staff:

Susan Johnston
Public Health Program Administrator
Refugee Health Program
Office of Health Equity
Room 905, Health and Welfare Building
625 Forster St., Harrisburg, PA 17120
Phone: 717-547-3313
Fax: 717-780-4827

Asresu Misikir, Dr. Ph., MPH
Refugee Health Program Section
Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Bureau of Epidemiology
Phone: 717-787-3350
Fax: 717-772-6975