Responding to Changing Health Needs in Complex Emergencies

Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey

faculty: miriam Rabkin (Epidemiology), Fouad M. Fouad (American University of Beirut), Hala Ghattas (American University of Beirut)

students: Shatha el-nakib '15

The Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean regions are displacement epicenters; more than 3 million Syrian refugees are straining the socio-economic absorptive capacity of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The crisis has critical health implications for Syria and surrounding host countries, and highlights broader issues about changing health needs in complex emergencies worldwide. While relief agencies and health organizations traditionally focus on provision of shelter, securing access to food and water, prevention of infectious diseases, and treatment of acute illness, today’s displaced persons need access to health services in contexts beyond the traditional “camp” settings, but current global policies, frameworks and tools are not designed to address these needs. There is an urgent need – and an important opportunity – to transform the global policies and frameworks that support health services for displaced persons. This research is focusing on the specific issue of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, but will also have broad generalizability for the global policy context relevant to health imperatives facing other displaced persons. This three-year project will commence with a situational analysis, followed by collaborative research projects with partners in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Up to 10 students from the Mailman School of Public Health will be engaged with these activities, twinned with peers from regional academic institutions, such as the American University of Beirut. The project aims to influence policy by providing a compelling evidence-based argument that current frameworks for refugee health are not optimally configured for 21st century needs, and that there is an opportunity to enhance health services for the millions of displaced Syrians in the Middle East and Turkey and tens of millions of additional displaced persons worldwide.

Reports: forthcoming