Annual WNY Refugee Health Summit

2017 Summit Seeks Innovative Ways to Improve Health Literacy in Buffalo

The Annual WNY Refugee Health Summit is organized in partnership with key stakeholders from the University at Buffalo and the community to examine barriers and explore solutions to culturally engaged health care provision for refugees in Buffalo.


Speakers and workshop sessions addressed the theme of improving health literacy for Buffalo’s refugee population.


Refugee Health Summit and Global Innovation Challenge highlight offerings organized by two global-focused offices at UB.

2017 Summit Details

8:30        Coffee and sign in

9:00        Welcome: Mayor Byron Brown

9:15        State of the Region

9:30        Speaker panel (Dr. Kevin Pottie, Dr. Meb Rashid, and Deborah Lee)

11:00      Introduction to Health Literacy Breakout Sessions

11:10      Health Literacy Breakout Sessions :

  • Meb Rashid: Social Policy and Refugees: What is the Responsibility of Healthcare Providers?
  • Deborah Lee and Sharmila Shetty: Understanding the resettlement system to improve patient health: Global and local resettlement.
  • Kevin Pottie: Building a research agenda to support universal health coverage for migrants.

12:15      Lunch and large group reporting

1:00        Workshop: How do we increase Buffalo’s health literacy?

4:00        Presentations

4:30        Closing

CME Credit


The University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


The University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences designates this live activity for a maximum of 6.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

2017 Summit Speakers

Kevin Pottie, MD, MCISc, CCFP, began working with refugees in 1994. He served with MSF, WHO, the Canadian Task Force for Preventative Health Care, the GRADE Working Group and the Cochrane Equity Methods Group.  In February 2017 he attended the WHO/ IOM/ Sri Lankan Government 2 Global Consultation on Migrant Health.

He led the Canadian and European Refugee Health Guidelines. He has also held various positions in the field, notably, Republic of Georgia 1995, Bolivia 2001, Indonesia 2004 and Republic of Congo 2007-08, Benin 2009, Panama 2012 and Nepal 2014.  He is an associate professor and researcher at the Bruyère Research Institute, University of Ottawa and has published over 120 peer review papers. He enjoys bird watching, juggling and surfing.

Dr. Pottie's profile from University of Ottawa
Video introduction to Dr. Pottie and his work
Evidence-based clinical guidelines for immigrants and refugees

Dr. Sharmila Shetty is a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch. She trained as a pediatrician and joined Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 1999 and provided medical services for Palestinian refugees in Saida, Lebanon; IDPs in Bundibugyo, Uganda; and orphans in Khartoum, Sudan. She most recently worked with MSF as an epidemiologist in an HIV project in Dawei, Myanmar. Dr. Shetty completed the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) fellowship at the CDC, where she also subsequently worked as a medical epidemiologist in the Immigrant, Refugee and Migrant Health Branch, working on improving the health of refugees resettled to the US. She has also worked with the Red Cross in Banda Aceh, Indonesia post-tsunami; and was on faculty of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, working on the Hib Vaccine Initiative. 

CDC's Emergency Response and Recovery 
Hepatitis B Screening and Prevalence among Resettled Refugees
Measels among U.S. bound refugees from Malaysia

Meb Rashid, MD 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 at 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 is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Changemakers to watch: Dr. Meb Rashid
Dr. Rashid's interview about cuts to refugee healthcare funding

Deborah Lee, MPH has over 17 years of experience in public health work. For the past 10 years, she has worked as an epidemiologist in the Immigrant, Refugee and Migrant Health (IRMH) Branch of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ) on U.S. immigrant and refugee health issues and has managed the Migrant Serum Bank since 2007.  She has worked extensively with several CDC surveillance systems--Electronic Disease Notification System (EDN), National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS), and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System. Prior to CDC, she worked in Seattle, Washington with the HIV Clinical Trials Network (HVTN) at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and with Emory University in pharmacology on adrenergic receptors research.

CDC's Immigrant and Refugee Health
Migrant Serum Bank: CDC Immigrant and Refugee Health
Disease surveillance among newly arrived refugees and immigrants

Refugee Health Summit Objectives

2016 Summit Objectives: 

  • Build knowledge base related to culturally engaged care for refugees by providing CME training opportunities.
  • Understand current programs and projects serving healthcare needs of refugees throughout Buffalo.
  • Provide health education opportunities for community members.

2015 Summit Objectives: 

2014 Summit Objectives:

  • Describe existing barriers of culturally engaged health care provision for stakeholder groups in WNY
  • Learn about successful models to providing engaged health care for refugees in Buffalo and beyond
  • Identify potential linkages and spark collaborations to adapt and implement solutions to expand culturally engaged health care for refugees in Buffalo

Refugee Health Summit Reports

The Annual Refugee Health Summit is co-sponsored by the Office of Global Health Initiatives and the Community for Global Health Equity at UB.