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Refugee Health Fair

Pima County Public Library

Problem Statement

Over 5,000 refugees live in Tucson, with the majority residing in the Martha Cooper Branch’s service area known as Midtown. The idea for the fair was conceived by the Manager of Midtown who noticed that many of the refugee patrons had untreated medical ailments. This concern was reinforced by the International Rescue Committee and Pima County Health Department. Refugees often receive good initial benefits and support when they first resettle. However, once this assistance ends many ‘fall through the cracks’ of our health care system, because of access issues like lack of insurance or language barriers. Refugee health disparities in the United States are well-documented, and this fair was organized as a way to reconnect refugees with primary care.


The Martha Cooper Branch Library partners with the International Rescue Committee, Pima County Health Department and the UA Eller School of Business Management to plan, organize and implement this fair. The Refugee Health Fair offers refugees free health screening (diabetes, cholesterol, hearing, vision, asthma, blood pressure, etc.) and information on a variety of health and wellness topics in 13 languages. Interpreters were hired to assist medical screeners and refugees with the interpretation of medical information. Fifty volunteers from the University of Arizona assisted library organizers and partners with advertising, transportation, interpretation, donations and operations.


The first Refugee Health Fair in 2009 attracted 500 refugees and the 2nd annual served over 1000. Thirty-five wellness organization and agencies attended the Refugee Health Fair this year and a total of forty organizations contributed time, supplies and support. UA students collected donations of 7000 diapers, tooth brushes, tooth paste, water, juices and fruit to give to refugees. Without this fair many refugees would go without critical and preventive medical assistance and advice from medical professionals.