Refugee Reproductive Health Network (ReproNet)

The network serves as a hub for students, advocates, refugee women, and researchers working to integrate refugee women’s health issues and concerns into their research, events, and programs.
June 2024
Jun 26
Jun 26, 2024 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Online on Zoom,
August 2024
Aug 05

Latest Resources

Understanding Cervical Cancer Prevention Tool - English & Spanish
This tool discusses how cervical cancer develops, PAP smears, HPV vaccine, and steps to learn more about Cervical Cancer and its prevention.
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Understanding Cervical Cancer Prevention Tool- Arabic, Dari, Pashto
This audio-visual tool explains cervical cancer prevention, PAP smears, and steps to take to learn more about Cervical Cancer and its prevention.
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Female Birth Control Part I [Pashto] Thumbnail
Female Birth Control Part I [Pashto]
Dr. Atefa Hakimi provides in depth information about menstrual cycles and natural family planning.
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Introduction to Postpartum Care for Refugee Women [Dari]
Introduction to Postpartum Care for Refugee Women [Dari]
Nooria Bibi emphasizes the importance of mother care during the postpartum period, specifically focusing on refugee women’s health in Dari.
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About ReproNet

More than 685,655 refugees and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders have settled in the United States since 2010.1 Over half of this highly vulnerable population are women and girls of reproductive age – and they are not getting their obstetric and reproductive healthcare (RH) needs met. This includes a lack of or limited care during and after pregnancies and miscarriages. This also includes a lack of or limited access to abortion care and contraception.2 In addition, refugee women and girls have an increased risk of sexual violence, trafficking, and other gender-based trauma.3

RH access and utilization are known to have improved individuals’ long-term physical and mental wellbeing.4 In the case of recently resettled refugee women and girls, there are often delays in service utilization due to socioeconomic pressures, cultural differences, language barriers, unfamiliarity with preventive care and the U.S. healthcare system, and inadequate system navigation skills.5,6 Knowledge about sexual and RH services, as well as access to adequate care, have the power to improve the lives of these vulnerable and underserved women and girls.

The University of California, Irvine, and other University of California campuses created the Refugee Reproductive Health Network (ReproNet) in 2019 to engage in dialogue with refugee women and communities, and to increase awareness on refugee RH issues. In addition to well-woman care, ReproNet also includes information on male reproductive health; this is purposefully done to align with the traditional and strong intra-family interdependence of many refugee cultures.

ReproNet created opportunities and practical approaches to include RH information into existing cultural orientation and integration services that health care providers, resettlement agencies, mosques, community-based organizations, and school and community-college based English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) programs offered. These unique local partnerships explored interventions and engaged female refugees in environments where they felt safe and secure in discussing intimate and sensitive issues. Adapting to the social distancing measures that the COVID-19 pandemic imposed, in 2020 ReproNet increasingly began to rely on technology to communicate with women after assessing the readiness of refugee communities for virtual engagement.7

ReproNet, University of California, Irvine

Principal Investigator Heike Thiel de Bocanegra, PHD, MPH

Adjunct Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology


Strengthen refugee/academic community partnerships by creating an interactive reproductive health network between academic centers, refugee communities, and refugee service providers.
Engage in dialogue with female and male refugees to capture experiences and preferences for RH services
Improve refugee reproductive health literacy (RHL) through a publicly available digital library of multilingual reproductive health resources, in-person and virtual reproductive health literacy (RHL) classes, and provider-capacity building.

What We Do

ReproNet regularly hosts women’s health sessions in California. In collaboration with local refugee communities, ReproNet has cultivated profound relationships to engage in meaningful conversations with refugee women about their reproductive health preferences over the past four years.

Refugee Women Served
Presentations at national conferences, webinars, and regional networks.
Online and in-person reproductive health sessions held
Worked with California Office of Refugee Health on integrating pregnancy intention and contraceptive use question into refugee health assessment
ReproNet partners (community agencies, clinics, refugee resettlement agencies, academic centers)
Peer-review publications on family planning and virtual engagement of refugee populations

Our Partners

The Refugee Reproductive Health Network (ReproNet) received funding from the Patient Outcome Research Institute 14471-UCI-IC , the National Library of Medicine G08 LM014109, and private donations.

  1. Center of Excellence in Refugee Health – Minnesota Department of Health. Accessed December 15, 2018.
  2. Burns K, Male S, Pierotti D. The reproductive health of refugees. Int Fam Plan Perspective
    [Internet]. 2000 [cited 2019 Feb 22];26. Available from:
  3. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Refugee women and children face heightened risk of sexual violence amid tensions and overcrowding at reception facilities on Greek islands [Internet]. UNHCR. 2018 [cited 2018 Mar 9]. Available from:
  4. Thiel de Bocanegra H, Carter-Pokras O, Ingleby JD, Pottie K, Tchangalova N, Allen SI, Smith-Gagen J, Hidalgo B. Addressing refugee health through evidence-based policies: a case study. Ann Epidemiol. 2018 Jun;28(6):411-419. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2017.05.010.Epub 2017 May 12. PMID: 28554498; PMCID: PMC5682239.7. Barnes DM, Harrison CL. Refugee women's reproductive health in early resettlement. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs, 2004. 33(6): p. 723-8.
  5. Barnes DM, Harrison CL. Refugee women's reproductive health in early resettlement. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs, 2004. 33(6): p. 723-8.
  6. Gagnon AJ, Wahoush O, Dougherty G, Saucier JF, Dennis CL, Merry L, Stanger E, Stewart DE. The childbearing health and related service needs of newcomers (CHARSNN) study protocol. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2006 Dec 26;6:31. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-6-31. PMID: 17190589; PMCID: PMC1797193.
  7. Thiel de Bocanegra H, Khan N, Mody S, Goliaei Z, Banna S. Community readiness for virtual health engagement – Brief. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute 2021; 1–5. Available at: