Cross-cultural and cross-linguistic access to the healthcare system
The last few decades have seen an increasing movement of migrants and refugees around the world. Previous studies have shown that a number of barriers may stand in the way of migrants’ ability to understand and utilise healthcare services. These barriers may involve a lack of proficiency in the recipient society’s dominant language, a lack of health literacy, as well as cultural or social barriers. Such barriers may lead to health disparities in morbidity and mortality rates, as well as a lack of understanding of the mechanics of the healthcare system, which may – for instance – result in patients presenting to emergency departments rather than seeing their primary healthcare physicians, or being unaware of the existence of certain services. This chapter will look at the current provision of services established to address health inequalities identified among underserved patient populations in Auckland, New Zealand, and Seattle, WA. It will compare the main barriers experienced by underserved populations in both locations, as well as the types of solutions explored, including the provision of healthcare interpreters, health navigators and language- and culture-concordant services.