COVID 19 and its Impact on Refugees

Today, there are nearly 80 million dislodged individuals around the globe, and roughly 90% of the world’s refugees dwell in developing countries, that quite often struggle to offer essential administrations, not to mention having to fight a worldwide pandemic that requires providing conditions of social distancing.

What puts refugees at a high danger of being affected by COVID-19?

Refugee populations are infected in a similar manner to their host communities. However, underlying factors that affect their wellbeing, as well as prevention measures, can interfere with the way they can battle the virus.

One out of three refugee camps are often positioned in remote areas with constrained health care. Typically, there are no hospitals or clinics in refugee camps. Some of the biggest camps do have them, yet not many of them have ICUs or ventilators. There is a critical inquiry of whether refugees have the option to enter into their host country hospitals and ICUs when, most of the time, they are not sufficient for the local population. In this way, their admission to health care and incapability of acquiring social insurance sometimes is the primary vulnerability.

Besides, refugees often live with numerous families in very high population – density conditions. It is incredibly hard for them to social distance in light of the fact that there really is not any place for isolation. Of particular worry are the Rohingya population in Bangladesh, because they are almost 900,000 people in an unbelievably thick territory.

Refugees are likewise bound to have underlying health conditions, for example acute malnutrition or a non-communicable disease as diabetes mellitus. Along these lines, there is a great deal of concern that COVID-19 affects refugees more severely than people in their host communities.

There are also over 40 million people who have left their home in dread of persecution, mistreatment and conflict, but remain in their country. Internally uprooted persons such as those in Darfur, Sudan, or Idlib, Syria, are at extreme hazard since they are being aggrieved in their own country and do not have similar rights that refugees have. The health care system in these spots is wrecked and if COVID-19 influences those populations, they will be in a tough situation.

Have there already been COVID-19 outbreaks within refugee populations?

There has been an outbreak in the Greek detention centers for asylum seekers and migrants. In a closed, detainment – like setting, the pandemic can fan out quickly. There have also been cases of COVID-19 among asylum seekers and migrants in U.S. detention centers. In any case, starting now, the most terrible might be yet to come as the pandemic grows and spreads to the Middle East, Africa, South America and other parts of Asia, where most of the world’s refugees are located.

Are any measures being taken to make social distancing possible within the closed setting of refugee camps?

One of the primary strategies being utilised is ‘Shielding’. This is when gatherings of families who know each other move those over age 60 and those with pre-existing medical conditions to isolation from others, to secure and protect them. This method is used to shield the most vulnerable a lot before the infection spreads among the individuals of their respective camps. Other measures incorporate shutting schools and risk communication; educating people about what exactly the virus is, the way it is transmitted and what they can do to help reduce infection.

Worldwide, communities and networks must not dismiss the impact of the crisis on populations on the move. It is not, at this point enough, to just give humanitarian and medical help without observing and taking note of the rules, guidelines, policies and practices of the various authorities who have direct power over the fate of prone communities.

As future healthcare practitioners, how is COVID-19 and refugees relevant to us?

As EMSAis, on this year’s World Refugees Day, our goal is to make the day an eye-opening experience for healthcare students across Europe. We want to put a human face to the issue of refugee health. It is very easy for some of us to assume that the only time we will get the chance to meet and treat refugees is if we are in a place in Africa. However, it is high time we open our eyes to refugees; we will encounter them as our patients and it’s our responsibility to take into consideration their unique health concerns, including mental health problems related to trauma or violence they might have faced along the way. We want to bring those issues to life, to be sure refugees are not a forgotten population to medical students, especially during such a crucial time of this COVID-19 pandemic. Because medical students are the healthcare providers of tomorrow. And as EMSA, we stand with Refugees!

#EMSAstandswithRefugees