Department of Family & Community Medicine

Refugee Health Primer: Optimizing Primary Care for Refugee Newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area


May 1, 2020


A one-day Conference on Clinical Care and Health System Navigation for Primary Care Providers Serving Refugee Newcomers.  


Co-hosted by the Department of Family & Community Medicine and Women’s College Hospital.



This Group Learning program has been certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Ontario Chapter for up to 7 Mainpro+ credits.



At the end of this conference, participants will be able to

· Describe the refugee processing system and how it intersects with the health of refugee populations

· Identify the common and most serious health challenges that confront their refugee patients and describe an initial approach to management of these conditions

· Describe health insurance coverage for refugees and refugee claimants

· Identify the resources available in their community to help their refugee patients navigate the health care system and social supports


Session Topics:

· Overview of Refugee Migration

· Tuberculosis

· Women's Health

· Oral Health

· Pediatrics

· Infectious Diseases

· Mental Health

· Interim Federal Health Insurance

· Health Policy, Refugees & Advocacy


Speakers Include:


Isaac Bogoch, MD, MPH

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto. Clinical Researcher, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute Staff Physician, Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, University Health Network

Dr. Isaac Bogoch is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Medicine, and is an Infectious Diseases consultant and General Internist at the Toronto General Hospital with a focus on tropical diseases, HIV, and general infectious diseases. He completed medical school and Internal Medicine residency training at the University of Toronto, and then specialized in Infectious Diseases at Harvard University. He holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health, and has completed fellowships in both Tropical Infectious Diseases and HIV care. Dr. Bogoch divides his clinical and research time between Toronto and several countries in Africa and Asia. He collaborates with a team that models the spread of emerging infectious diseases, and studies innovative and simple diagnostic solutions to improve the quality of medical care in resource-constrained settings.


Kamran Khan, MD, FRCPC, MPH 

Staff Physician, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, St. Michael’s Hospital Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Founder of BlueDot

Dr. Kamran Khan is an infectious disease physician with training in public health and preventive medicine based at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital. He is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation in the Division of Infectious Diseases. His research interests focus on human migration, international travel and the impacts of globalization on newly emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. He is also the founder of a social enterprise called BlueDot that develops innovative web and mobile technologies to facilitate smart and timely decisions by individuals and health organizations.


Mie Tha Lah         

Mie Tha Lah is a Karen ethnic and was born and raised in Burma, one of the most repressive countries of the world through out the past half a century. After enduring civil war, ethnic cleansing and human right violations in a country, he fled to Thailand with his family and became a refugee in 1994. As a refugee, he was awarded a full scholarship to study Education in the Philippines from 1999-2003. After the graduation, he returned to the refugee camp and served his community as an educator and trainer until he resettled to Canada in 2007. He is currently working for Ministry of Attorney General as accredited court interpreter for Karen and Burmese languages and at the same time assisting newcomers, refugees and immigrants as settlement worker through Jane Finch Centre. He now lives in Toronto with his wife Jocelyn and their three wonderful children.


Steven Meagher

Shelter Manager, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre

Steve Meagher works as Shelter Manager for Christie Refugee Welcome Centre, an emergency shelter for refugee claimant families in Toronto. He is currently serving as co-chair of the family sector table with the Toronto Shelter Network. He is also active member of the Shelter and Housing Justice Network (SHJN), and the Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants, where he chairs the Unaccompanied Minors Working Group.


Meb Rashid, MD 

Medical Director, Crossroad’s Clinic, Women’s College Refugee Health Clinic

Dr. Meb Rashid has had the privilege of spending the last fifteen years of his career working with newly arrived refugees in Canada.  He is the medical director of the Crossroads Clinic, a medical clinic housed in Women’s College Hospital that serves refugees arriving in Toronto. He has also co-founded the Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, an organizations founded to advocate for refugees to access health insurance. He was on the steering committee of the CCIRH, a group that developed evidence based guidelines for the assessment of newly arrived immigrants and refugees and is a co-founder of the Christie Refugee Health Clinic, a health clinic located in a refugee shelter.    He has written and lectured extensively about the health of refugee populations and has a particular interest in health equity and access to health care.  He is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.


Vanessa Redditt, MD

Family physician, Crossroads Refugee Clinic. Lecturer, Department of Community and Family Medicine, University of Toronto.

Dr. Vanessa Redditt a staff family physician at the Crossroads Clinic.  She also works with Inner City Health Associates at Sistering Drop In, FCJ Refugee Centre, and Journey Home Hospice. Vanessa is interested in enhancing the health of marginalized individuals and communities through clinical care, health system improvement, and tackling social inequities. She is a lecturer at the University of Toronto's Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health and is engaged in research on the health of newly arrived refugees and their experiences in the health care system, with a goal of improving clinical practices, care delivery models, and social services to better support this population.


Rachel Spitzer, MD, FRCS(C), MPH 

Staff Physician, General Obstetrics & Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital. Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Toronto

Dr. Rachel Spitzer grew up in Montreal and Toronto and obtained her BSc at McGill University in Montreal.  Subsequently, she attended McMaster University medical school in Hamilton, from where she returned to Toronto to pursue residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto.  This was followed by fellowship training at The Hospital for Sick Children in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology where her clinical and research interests focus on complex contraception and adolescent pregnancy.  Rachel went on to obtain her Master’s in Public Health at Harvard University in 2007/2008 with a concentration in International Health and an interdisciplinary concentration in Women and Gender Health.  Rachel returned to Toronto as Assistant Professor in the department of Ob/Gyn at the University of Toronto in the summer of 2008 and was Faculty Lead for Global Health in the Undergraduate Medical Program from 2011-2016 and became Vice Chair of Global Health in the department of ObGyn in 2014. In 2015 she was promoted to Associate Professor in the department. Rachel is cross appointed to the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at U of T. She combines clinical practice of general and pediatric and adolescent Obstetrics and Gynecology with the practice and teaching of global women’s health.


Shazeen Suleman, MD, MPH

Staff Physician, Department of Pediatrics Outreach Services, St. Michael’s Hospital. Co-Founder and President of MusicBox Children’s Charity

Dr. Shazeen Suleman is a staff physician in the Department of Pediatrics, Outreach Services at St. Michael's Hospital. She completed her pediatric residency at the Hospital for Sick Children and her medical degree at the University of British Columbia, where she was named a Wesbrook Scholar. She completed a master's of public health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in 2017, where she was a Sommer Scholar.

At St. Michael's Hospital, Dr. Suleman provides consulting general pediatrics care for children living in the inner-city, including urban Indigenous, refugee and immigrant children. She is a consultant pediatrician with the Model Schools Pediatric Health Initiative, and is the research lead for K!DConnect, a pediatric patient navigation program at St. Michael's Hospital. Her academic interests involve the development and evaluation of evidence-based programs to support newcomer and vulnerable children.

Outside of the clinic, she is the co-founder and president of the MusicBox Children's Charity, a national organization that has provided music education opportunities to more than 5000 vulnerable children across Canada. She is a founding member of the Social Pediatrics Special Interest Group and was involved with the Caring for Kids New to Canada task force. She is an assistant editor for Paediatrics & Child Health, the official journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society. She is actively involved in medical education, and frequently gives guest lectures, presentations and workshops to all levels of medical trainees.


Physicians, residents, allied health professionals and students


Women’s College Hospital (Auditorium), 76 Grenville St, Toronto, ON M5S 1B2


Registration will open in November 2019.