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Toronto app helps connect Syrian refugees with doctors

The people behind iamsick.ca have translated their website and app into Arabic to assist Syrian refugees landing in Toronto.

Nouhaila Chelkhaoui and Ryan Doherty of iamsick.ca are hoping the recent addition of Arabic to their healthcare service app will be of great help to Syrian refugees.

Liz Beddall/Metro

Nouhaila Chelkhaoui and Ryan Doherty of iamsick.ca are hoping the recent addition of Arabic to their healthcare service app will be of great help to Syrian refugees.

Getting a doctor’s appointment or finding a pharmacy that’s open late at night can be tough, and even more difficult if you’re a refugee with a language barrier.

That’s why iamsick.ca, a start-up led by a group of University of Toronto graduates, has translated its multi-lingual healthcare service app into Arabic, to accommodate the new wave of Syrians who’ve landed in the city.

The app allows people to search for family doctors, walk-in clinics and pharmacists, filtered by the languages the healthcare providers speak, said co-founder Ryan Doherty.

Along with updating the app, Doherty and his team have been working directly with non-profits that assist Syrian refugees. They’ve also added an Arabic phone line for people who aren’t tech savvy.

There are clinics in Toronto that deal specifically with refugees and can help them get medical attention upon arrival and find a family doctor for the long-term. But some, such as the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Healthcare, said they’ve been overrun with appointments for months.

“It’s a complex system, you have to have a family doctor and that’s not common in the Arab world,” said iamsick’s account manager, Nouhaila Chelkhaoui, who hails from Morocco.

“Here, more often than not, they’re not accepting new patients and just being able to access them is a challenge.”

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