Studies, Reviews and Research

Localising Public Health: Refugee-led organisations as first and last responders in COVID-19

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National Library of Medicine; National Center for Biotechnology Information

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing socioeconomic impact on already marginalised refugee communities demonstrate both the need for and lack of, localisation in humanitarian and development responses. This research draws on pre-pandemic research with refugee-led organisations (RLOs) in Uganda and Kenya that are actively responding to the pandemic and its effects. It identifies five key areas in which refugees are or could be involved as responders to COVID-19 and other pandemics: providing public information, supplementing capacity gaps, healthcare delivery, shaping social norms, and virus tracking and contact tracing. The research shows how RLOs have pivoted their existing service provision to fill assistance gaps, including in areas directly related to public health. As the humanitarian system searches for ways to implement remote and participatory approaches to refugee assistance, RLOs offer great potential, if mechanisms can be found to identify those that are effective, provide them with funding, and build their capacities.

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