Refugees and Health in Urban Africa

Authored by: Sheru Wanyua Muuo

Handbook of Global Urban Health

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138206250
eBook ISBN: 9781315465456
Adobe ISBN:


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According to reports from the UNHCR, in 2017, out of 68.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, 25.4 million were refugees. Africa alone hosted 6.2 million, which was an increase from the 5.6 million refugees who were hosted in 2016. The African continent suffers from a wide range of economic, cultural, environmental, social and political challenges, which makes the refugee situation worse. The goal of this chapter is to highlight the health and health system challenges among refugees in Africa as well as the role of NGOs and advocacy groups in addressing these challenges. Some of the major health challenges faced by refugees include increased exposure to infectious diseases, mental health challenges, malnutrition, violence and reproductive health problems. Health systems of host countries face a substantial amount of strain owing to the influx of refugees, with challenges such as lack of essential services and drugs, difficulties in making diagnoses because of language and social barriers, and poor perception of refugees by health workers and host communities. NGOs including advocacy groups have provided some support to resource-strained African governments in dealing with refugee health needs, including health services and training health workers. However, many gaps still need to be addressed, including improved data monitoring and closer collaboration among government agencies, NGOs, community groups and other stakeholders in implementing interventions.

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