Migration and Health: What does 'access' to Healthcare mean for Minority Immigrant Communities?

Authors: Sudarshana Bordoloi*, Minnesota State University-Mankato
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Immigration/Transnationalism, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Access, Healthcare, Health Geography, Migration, Immigrants
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 22
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Access to healthcare within the scope of medical geography has largely emphasized myriad spatio-temporal dimensions in the availability, or lack thereof, of healthcare services for specific populations. This literature has contributed significantly to our understanding of healthcare service provisioning in general, pointing out specifically, barriers to access of quality care for diverse communities in diverse geographic settings. However, the engagement with the term ‘access’ itself as conditioned by socio-structural, cultural-behavioral, intersectional, or place based factors and how access to healthcare determines health seeking behavior for certain populations is at best minimal. This paper critically reviews the literature on access to healthcare from a geographically inflected interdisciplinary framework in the light of healthcare experiences of ‘vulnerable’ immigrant communities in the US. Minority immigrant groups are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ where health is concerned because of increased risk for poor physical, psychological, and social health outcomes and inadequate health care opportunities. This vulnerability is heightened for the refugee population due to their residential displacement and ‘forced’ geographical relocation, distress conditions under which they migrate, and the physical and psychological trauma of socio-economic disruptions caused by the migration process. These groups also face political and social marginalization in the country of resettlement along with lack of adequate socio-economic and societal resources necessary to navigate the complexities of a new health care system. Drawing insights from an ongoing research project, this paper underscores the significance of equity minded and culturally responsive health geography frameworks to understand access to healthcare mean for minority immigrant communities.

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