Supporting migrant adolescents

There is a public health crisis in America right now among the migrant population. 

Chicago is dealing with a measles outbreak. Many parts of America are similarly affected, according to the CDC Measles Dashboard.

Health care for migrant children and adolescents in Chicago and other sanctuary cities needs greater focus with increased federal funding.

Texas has transported over 100,000 migrants to different cities around the United States. More than 36,000 migrants have arrived in Chicago since August 2022. Chicago is one of many cities in the United States experiencing the challenges of mass migration, with New York City and Denver reporting similar numbers for the migrant population. Children make up approximately 20 percent of the migrant population in Chicago

The current measles outbreak in Chicago comes after the chicken pox epidemic in December 2023, which raised the prevalence of sepsis among migrants.

A 5-year-old migrant named Jean Carlos Martinez Rivero passed away on December 17, 2023. The Chicago Mayor’s office report attributed the death to sepsis caused by infections like Strep and Covid-10 based on autopsy. 

The last few months have been extremely difficult for the Chicago Health Department, with outbreaks affecting children and adolescents. The COVID-19 Federal Public Health Emergency ended on May 11, 2003. Cities such as Chicago, New York City, and Denver have not had time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic before the current stream of health crises involving the migrant community.

Given the number of adolescents among the migrant population in the United States, the health of these migrant adolescents needs a special focus because of their unique challenges.

I am thankful to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago for allowing me to volunteer at migrant shelters during my break from school in the last 12 months.

During my spring break at the end of March, I volunteered at a migrant shelter with the Rush clinical staff, who provided MMR vaccinations to the migrant community to address the measles outbreak. In addition, COVID-19 and flu vaccines were administered. These vaccinations are life savers for migrant children and adolescents.

Similarly, during the summer of 2023, I interned via the Rush Center to Transform Health and Housing at a Chicago police station that temporarily housed migrants. Assisting a Rush primary care doctor and community social workers, I was exposed to the health needs of the migrant children housed at the shelter. Language barriers created difficulties in meeting their needs. These adolescents did not speak English, and more translators were needed. To address the crisis, the city needed to employ more translators or engage more community-based organizations with language skills.

Special reports by the Chicago Tribune have highlighted the plight of migrant children in need of medical care at police stations and discussed the challenges of migrant children aged 7 to 13 with special needs, such as autism, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome.

Dr. Elizabeth Davis, MD, is the Chief Medical Officer Liaison for Community Health Equity at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Davis says, “There are many teens among the population seeking asylum in the United States. Just like any teen, they need comprehensive health care, including mental health, preventive services, and care for both acute and chronic conditions. They may have experienced trauma and malnutrition during their journey and need attention to these issues. They also need support to navigate an unfamiliar health care system.”Illinois Governor and the Chicago Mayor have asked the federal government to provide more aid to Chicago to address the migrant crisis. We need federal funds earmarked for the health of migrant children and adolescents.

I urge the federal government to provide more aid to Chicago and other sanctuary cities to address health care issues with migrant adolescents.

Ruhi Saldanha is an undergraduate student.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top