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Open Access Research article

Prevalence of dyslipidaemia and micronutrient deficiencies among newly arrived Afghan refugees in rural Australia: a cross-sectional study

Mehdi Sanati Pour1, Surabhi Kumble2, Sarah Hanieh2 and Beverley-Ann Biggs23*

Author Affiliations

1 Tristar Medical Group, Mildura 3500, Victoria, Australia

2 University of Melbourne, Melbourne Academic Centre, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne 3010, Victoria, Australia

3 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne 3050, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:896  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-896

Published: 1 September 2014

Abstract

Background

Afghanistan is the 15th least developed country in the world, with poor sanitation and high rates of infectious diseases and malnutrition. However, little is known about the health of young Afghan refugees resettling in Western countries.

Methods

We used a cross-sectional study design to examine the health profile of newly arrived Afghan refugees presenting to a General Practice between 20th April 2010 and 22nd March 2013 in rural Australia. Data collected included information on nutritional status and prevalence of infectious diseases. Challenges associated with health screening in a General Practice setting in this population were also documented.

Results

Data were available on 92 patients. Mean age of presentation was 22.6 years [SD 11.9], and the majority of patients were male (88%). Mean total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were 4.4 mmol/L (95% CI, 2.9–7.3), 2.6 mmol/L (95% CI, 1.3–4.4), 1.24 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.7–2.0) and 1.19 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.4–4.7) respectively, and dyslipidaemia (defined as elevated total or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, or low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol) was seen in 27.5% of patients. There was also a high prevalence of vitamin D and B12 deficiency (50% and 18%, respectively) in this cohort. Issues that impacted on provision and access to health care for refugees included cost, language barriers, patient mobility and mental health issues.

Conclusions

Dyslipidaemia and micronutrient deficiencies are significant health issues in young recently settled Afghan refugees, and routine screening should be considered for this population.

Keywords:
Dyslipidaemia; Micronutrient deficiencies; Afghan refugees; Rural Australia