The UN agency for refugees UNHCR reports that, despite a record high number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide last year, healthcare assistance for refugees and other displaced populations improved in most cases. The announcement came in the Annual Public Health Overview on the latest emergencies concerning refugees and operations underway.
However, communicable diseases, anemia and stunted growth are still of concern.
Timely, effective intervention
The document, reported the UNHCR in a statement, underscored that heightened monitoring of key indicators on healthcare in refugee populations made it possible to act in a more timely and effective manner.
The report underscored what has been done thus far and trends based on key indicators such as public health, reproductive health, HIV, nutrition, food security, water and hygiene.
The UNHCR report noted that despite large-scale emergencies and refugee epidemic in 2017, a year in which wars and persecution raised the number of displaced people to a record high, the mortality rate for children under age 5 remained stable at the world level in post-emergency situations at a rate of 0.4 deaths per 1,000 refugees every month, a level that has been dropping since 2011.
There were also improvements in reproductive health services and about half a million pregnant women refugees received prenatal assistance, an 18% increase on 2016.
Concerns remain despite results
UNHCR reports that over 100 clinical consultations were provided in 2017 to refugees at healthcare facilities, a 10% rise on 2016. Nine of out 10 of the refugees assisted in the facilities were suffering from communicable diseases.
The number of mental health consultations for refugees has risen steadily over the years, doubling in 2017 compared with the numbers seen three years ago. In total, over 160,000 children under a year old have been vaccinated against measles, a 15% increase on 2016, while HIV treatment was offered to over 10,000 refugees, triple the number seen in 2015.
Despite the positive results, UNHCR is still concerned about persisting high levels of anemia and stunted growth. Malnutrition is also of high concern due to a reduction in food rations to refugees and basic assistance in several operations to support refugees.