UB - Community Connections to Improve Refugee Health and Wellbeing

Co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, Office of Global Health Initiatives and the Community for Global Health Equity

2017 Refugee Health Summit.

The Annual Western New York (WNY) Refugee Health Summit unites clinicians, resettlement representatives, community health workers, researchers, students, municipal leaders, and refugees to highlight innovative university-community partnerships that have resulted in research, programming, and solutions to improve health and wellbeing for refugees living in Buffalo and Western New York.

6th Annual WNY Refugee Health Summit: Housing for Refugee Health and Wellbeing

The built environment, or the human-made surroundings in which people live, work, and recreate, has direct and indirect effects on physical and poor mental health. Poor housing conditions - exposure to toxins, insufficient daylight, inadequate ventilation and insulation, isolation or crowding - are associated with respiratory infections, lead poisoning, and mental health. Quality affordable housing is also becoming scarce - lessees may not know their rights and fall victim to property owner violations.

For Buffalo's New Americans, poor housing conditions worsen physical and mental health and wellbeing. New Americans seek more adequate training on their rights and opportunities. Current and future health care providers seek to understand the link between their home environment and health. Researchers seek to uncover deep connections between the built environment and health. The 6th Annual WNY Refugee Health Summit is an opportunity for New Americans, health care providers, and researchers to convene, and collaboratively explore ways in which housing can be a lever for improving health in Buffalo, NY. The 2019 Summit will: 

  • Examine Buffalo's housing crisis,
  • Explore the links between housing and health,
  • Recommend policies to improve housing for better health of refugees, and
  • Identify innovative practices that improve mental and physical health for New Americans.

The Details


The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is located on the metro line at the Allen-Medical Campus Station. Off street and on street parking is available on Saturdays.

Additionally a parking ramp is available behind Children's Hospital at 854 Elicott for $7 per day. 

Entering the building

All participants should enter the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences using the Main St. and High St. entrance. 

Child care

We will be offering child care for all Summit participants. If you are in need of child care, please note this within your registration.

Continuing Medical Education

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 5.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.​


9:00 | Check in and registration

9:30 | Welcome and Announcements

Dr. Katarzyna Kordas, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Environmental Health; Co-Director, Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity
Jessica Lazarin, Director, Office for New Americans, City of Buffalo
Jessica Scates, Coordinator, WNY Refugee Health Summit

10 | Keynote Panel

Chan Myae Thu, Community Health Worker, Neighborhood Health Center 
Steven Sanyu, President, Burmese Community Services 
Theo Have, Medical Case Manager, Evergreen Health 
Abdi Farah, Community Health Specialist, Community Health Center of Buffalo; Co-founder and Vice Chair, HEAL Intl.

10:45 | Panel: Buffalo's Housing Crisis

Lila Rollo, American Integration Program Coordinator, International Institute of Buffalo
Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Executive Director, Partnership for the Public Good
Daniel J. Corbitt, Associate Director, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME)

11:30 | The Links Between Housing and Health and Wellbeing

Dr. Yeeli Mui, Postdoctoral Associate, Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, University at Buffalo
Erkin Özay, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo

Community Response: Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Executive Director, Partnership for the Public Good

12:15 | Lunch

1 | Panel: Innovative mental health care practices

John Starkey, Principal, Lafayette International High School
Ali Kadhum, Mental Health Counselor, BestSelf Behavior Health
Jeanette Koncikowski, Executive Director, Grassroots Gardens WNY
Virginia Barron, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Buffalo String Works

1:45 | Panel: Intergenerational perspectives on mental health

San Da, Monk, Bodhi-Sukha Monastery, Arakan American Buddhist Inc.
Adnan Abdulsaid, Imam, Jaferi Center
Ingabire Adam, Youth Leader, Massachusetts Avenue Project
Win Thant, Education Coordinator, Buffalo State College

2:30 | Activity: Responding to our community's needs

3:30 | Closing

Previous Summits

Buffalo is among the top locations for refugee resettlement in the United States. Coming from countries such as Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and Syria, refugees add to the diversity of Buffalo’s neighborhoods, schools, and businesses. Refugee and immigrant populations contribute to population growth, high rates of workforce participation, large tax contributions, and spending power. 

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

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

WNY Refugee Health Summit in the News


Summit aims to improve access to culturally and linguistically appropriate services, efficient clinic and transportation systems and operations, and available economic opportunities.


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


Annual summit convenes scholars, resettlement agencies, service providers, community support centers, municipal agencies and refugees to explore barriers and solutions to promote culturally engaged health care for refugees in Buffalo.


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


She will discuss the work of the U.S. government to address the global refugee crisis and the efforts of cities like Buffalo to welcome refugees.


From refugee housing plans to help spur economic development on Buffalo’s East Side, to a health summit and a symposium, UB faculty and students are actively engaged in refugee efforts.


Issam Smeir is the keynote speaker for UB's third annual Refugee Health Summit, which runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 2, at the Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Center, 555 Ellicott St., Buffalo.


The event is part of the School of Public Health and Health Professions' celebration of National Public Health Week.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP) will recognize National Public Health Week April 3-12 with a series of events that highlight and celebrate public health efforts locally and globally.

Every year, 1,500 to 2,000 refugees and asylum-seekers come to Buffalo, one of the top refugee resettlement areas in the United States, driven by social and political upheaval, war, economic and agricultural distress, and poverty. To explore these challenges and develop models for exemplary refugee health care systems, the University at Buffalo will sponsor Buffalo’s first collaborative Refugee Health Summit 2014 on April 24.