World Refugee Day 2024 (2024)

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      • World Refugee Day 2024

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      20 June 2024

      Solidarity in action: Promoting refugee-sensitive health systems

      On June 20th, 2024, the World Health Organization (WHO) joins UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners in observing World Refugee Day 2024. In line with this year's theme, "Solidarity with Refugees", WHO emphasizes the importance of building inclusive health systems and ensuring equitable care for refugees worldwide. WHO highlights solidarity and health, celebrates refugee resilience, advocates for their health rights, and strives to create a world where everyone, regardless of migratory status, enjoys universal access to quality health care.

      UNHCR estimates that by mid-2023, over 110 million individuals worldwide were forcibly displaced, with 40% being children. 75% of these displaced individuals are hosted in low- and middle-income countries. Refugees are not merely recipients of care but active contributors to health systems globally, serving as skilled health care professionals, cultural mediators, and advocates for equitable access. Data from the WHO World report on the health of refugees and migrants highlights their impactful roles, emphasizing the importance of including refugees in decision-making processes, which enhances service quality and cultural competence.

      As we celebrate their resilience and honor their contributions, we recognize the challenges refugees face and the urgent need for global solidarity. Despite not being inherently less healthy, millions in vulnerable situations experience poorer health outcomes due to substandard living and working conditions. Prioritizing their right to timely, accessible, affordable, acceptable, and dignified health care is crucial for achieving health for all.

      “Walking the talk”: Examples of WHO’s contributions to refugee health promotion

      In line with the 2019-2030 Global Action Plan on promoting the health of refugees and migrants, WHO collaborates with Member States, regional offices, and partners to advocate for refugees and migrants' rights and health equity. By leading global advocacy efforts, setting standards, generating evidence, and fostering partnerships, WHO advances evidence-based approaches to meet the health needs of refugees and migrants, promoting global health equity and rights.

      • coordinating and steering normative work: The Third Global Consultation on the Health of Refugees and Migrants in June 2023, co-organized by WHO, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNHCR, and the Kingdom of Morocco, led to the adoption of the Rabat Declaration by 49 Member States and observers. This milestone is a global commitment to improving health for refugees, migrants, and host communities. The outcome report provides actionable steps for governments, UN agencies, and partners.
      • translating research into practice: WHO published the first global research agenda, to address evidence gaps, following a consultative research agenda setting process to build consensus on global priorities with over 180 stakeholders. Five priority research themes, requiring greater investment, were identified, accompanied by an Implementation Guide and Toolkit to foster stronger global research collaborations.
      • reviewing health systems: WHO conducts health system reviews worldwide to support the development of informed and evidence-based health system long-term interventions that build on existing capacities and appreciate gaps and opportunities. Reviews in Jordan, Bulgaria, Thailand, Czechia, Uganda, and Estonia, in collaboration with respective Ministries of Health have resulted in follow-up actions demonstrating policy changes and better-informed health planning. Notably, these reviews have facilitated the integration of refugee and migrant health needs into national strategies.
      • training health workers: WHO developed Refugee and migrant health: Global Competency Standards for health workers (the Competency Standards) to enhance health workers' capacity to deliver culturally-sensitive services to refugees and migrants. Successful training initiatives in Nigeria are being expanded to Senegal, Mali, and Niger. In parallel, WHO is establishing a corresponding e-learning course and preparing for the first global course to be held in Rome in collaboration with the Italian National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty - WHO Collaborating Centre.
      • celebrating the power of storytelling: The WHO's Health for All Film Festival awarded the “Migrants and Refugees Health Special Prize” to "Dalal's Story," directed by Alexandra Cordukes from Laundry Lane Productions (Australia). The film champions inclusive healthcare access and portrays how it fosters positive health outcomes through Dalal's journey as a Yazidi woman seeking refuge in Australia. Additionally, the festival presented the "Health Emergencies - Grand Prix" to "Journey Beyond the Rubble," directed by Mumen Sayed Issa and Atheer Salem Bahr (Türkiye). This film highlights the bravery of healthcare professionals in response to the 2023 earthquake, narrating the recovery story of Wala, a Syrian refugee in Türkiye and earthquake survivor.
      • exchanging knowledge and leveraging experiences: The Fifth Global School on the Health of Refugees and Migrants, will be held in December 2-6, 2024, in Bogota, Colombia, and livestreamed globally. It will bring together diverse stakeholders facilitating robust knowledge exchange and collective learning, to explore innovative strategies, share best practices, and foster partnerships to address the health challenges of people on the move and promote their well-being.

      The way forward: A collective approach to addressing the health needs of refugees

      Addressing the health needs of refugees demands a collective, cross-border commitment to solidarity and inclusivity. This involves addressing the determinants of health while reshaping and strengthening existing health systems to provide comprehensive, integrated services for both host communities and refugees. Recognizing refugees' health as vital to global well-being, representative data and high-quality research are crucial for monitoring progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and guiding evidence-based policies. Moving from policy to practice requires developing and implementing public health plans that incorporate refugees' health needs and involve affected communities in decision-making. Global collaboration, guided by principles of non-discrimination, equity, and inclusion, is essential. Enhancing international cooperation and fostering social integration are commitments toward creating a healthier, more equitable world for all.

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      WHO announces winners of the 5th Health for All Film Festival 26 May 2024
      WHO outlines crucial research priorities for better refugee and migrant health 30 October 2023
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