UNHCR 2020 Annual Public Health Overview – World

UNHCR 2020 Annual Public Health Overview – World


Public Health

UNHCR aims to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing of its persons of concern, enabling them to access safe, effective, equitable and affordable health care services. UNHCR supported access to comprehensive primary health care services as well as referral to secondary and tertiary care for refugees in 50 countries hosting 16.5 million refugees. Primary care included preventive, promotive and curative care including vaccination, access to clinical consultations and medications, sexual and reproductive health and HIV services, mental health care, and nutrition care.

UNHCR works with nearly 150 NGOs and other partners in collaboration with and support to national health systems.

At the end of 2020, UNHCR had 153 public health, reproductive health, MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) and nutrition personnel globally with 88% percent working at country level.

The integrated Refugee Health Information System (iRHIS) is used by UNHCR and partners in 19 countries and 159 refugee hosting sites. Health information for refugees in other countries was collected through national health systems which mostly do not allow for disaggregated data. Enhancements were made to the system and modules integrated to facilitate COVID-19 case reporting amongst PoC.

A significant focus of 2020 was preparedness and response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. UNHCR worked with national authorities to include refugees and other persons of concern in national response plans; facilitate access to information on prevention as well as access to testing and clinical care. In many refugee hosting countries this included support to national health systems, increasing testing capacity through procurement of tests and support to laboratories, establishment of isolation facilities in government or camp health facilities, training of staff, procurement of essential medicines and supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and oxygen concentrators and engagement with and communicating with communities. Community health workers played a critical role in many settings by providing vital information to communities as well as assisting in detection of cases, referrals, follow-up and tracing of contacts.


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