Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Health Services and Policy Management

Director of Thesis

Breanne Grace, PhD

Second Reader

Caroline Nagel, PhD


Inadequate strides have been made to bolster the short and long-term health of growing numbers of refugees awaiting resettlement. The United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as many countries of resettlement, guarantee the right to health as signatories of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, but in many situations refugee accessibility to healthcare and health resources is limited by time restrictions on benefits, immigration status, and/or financial circumstances.

This thesis provides a synopsis of the historical roots of current policies and legislative frameworks relating to refugee health for Wales and the US. Through the analysis of governmental policy documents and protocols for both nations, this thesis examines legislative action, entitlements, and systems that perpetuate cycles of poor health for refugees. It provides evidence that outlines challenges, successes, and failures of legislation and health systems that elicit further improvement and reform. The overall findings elucidate not only the broken systems created by histories of discriminatory legislation, but additional challenges related to the shortfalls of available resources and education such as cross-border competence of health professionals, refugee health system literacy, refugee financial security, and availability of mental health and translator services.

Findings from literature analysis and review of refugee related health policy from the US and Wales are compiled and compared in order to suggest a future framework of policymaking that eliminates current systematic barriers. This framework synthesizes the identified successes and failures in each system in hopes of providing legislative guidance for future policymakers to aid in the improvement of refugees’ overall health through accessibility.

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