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Syrian refugee response

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WHO works to coordinate health services provided to Syrian refugees residing in Egypt. A young boy is given an oral vaccineWHO works to coordinate health services provided to Syrian refugees residing in Egypt. The ongoing crisis in Syria continues to cause mass displacement of Syrian people, both internally and to neighbouring countries. 137 000 Syrian refugees are currently registered in Egypt, however the Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that in 2014 the real figure is between 250 000 and 300 000.

The Syrian refugee population within Egypt is fully integrated and largely urbanized, instead of residing in camps, which leads to varying degrees of access to basic sanitation and adequate health services, and places additional pressure on existing health systems.

The refugee community in Egypt has significant health needs with a high prevalence of chronic conditions, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, disability and cardiac diseases, as well as serious mental health concerns. There is also a risk of communicable diseases such as Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-cov) and polio, requiring sound disease surveillance and response systems.

As part of the UN Syrian Refugee Response in Egypt, WHO Egypt co-chairs the Health Working Group with UNHCR. WHO Egypt is directly responsible for coordinating health services for Syrians in close collaboration with local health authorities and relevant country partners.

WHO provides a consolidated and dedicated response to the crisis by reinforcing four core critical functions as outlined in the WHO Emergency Response Framework: coordination, information sharing, technical expertise and core services.

WHO supports the harmonization of health support to Syrian refugees, and is working to map health services in order to make them more accessible to the community.

By working with a network of local focal points WHO is able to assess the health needs of the community, develop emergency preparedness procedures and provide direct services.

WHO supports the Ministry of Health and Population through building the capacity of primary health care centres servicing the Syrian community in:

  • developing an Early Warning and Response Network for communicable diseases (EWARNS)
  • detection and management of noncommunicable diseases
  • integrating mental health services.

WHO directly finances the provision of secondary and tertiary health services, accessible to a majority of the Syrian refugee population, through four specialised medical centres in collaboration with the MoHP.

Support is given to strengthen routine and supplementary vaccination programmes.  As a part of the regional response to the polio outbreak in Syria WHO assists with national immunization days for polio across Egypt, including in refugee communities, and provides independent monitoring.

WHO will continue to assist the Government of Egypt and other partners in responding to the crisis through the development of the 3RP 2015–2016 (Regional refugee and resilience plan). WHO and its partners are working towards developing an in-depth health needs assessment for Syrian refugees, as well as providing rehabilitation services and supporting capacity in addressing health crises.

Related links

WHO Emergency Response Framework

Emergency preparedness and humanitarian action  

Humanitarian Health Action 

Syria Regional Refugee Response Inter-agency  Information Sharing Portal