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Q; There are a number of diseases that are consistently seen in displaced populations. Please explain potential causes for these outbreaks.
What are potential solutions for addressing these disease outbreaks?
1] Displaced populations are susceptible to communicable diseases such as vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD) due to the breakdown of regular health services, overcrowded camps, poor living conditions, the lack of safe water, the exacerbation of pre-existing health conditions, and the lack of medical resources (Lam, McCarthy, & Brennan, 2015). Millions of people are displaced as a result of war, violence, and weather-related disasters (Lam et al., 2015). Poor living and health conditions in addition to gaps in immunity allowed for communicable diseases to spread within the refugee camps and to host communities. In the case of the polio outbreak in Luanga province of Angola, political instability also aided the transmission of the virus through inadequate sanitation and failing infrastructure (Lam et al., 2015). The disruption of health services, or the lack thereof, plays a major role in the spread of diseases with displaced populations as these people are unable to receive the care they need and health conditions are further exacerbated by risk factors. As displaced populations move to a new place, they are capable of introducing diseases to a new place and coming into contact with new diseases along the way or in the new place (Lam et al., 2015).
To potentially address the disease outbreaks, it would be beneficial to increase vaccination efforts at refugee camps. To prevent the spread of diseases, incoming displaced populations should be screened to ensure that they have the proper immunizations or are able to receive vaccinations. Ideally, anyone capable of receiving their vaccinations would get vaccinated and anyone already showing signs and symptoms of any disease would be treated immediately. However, cultural and personal beliefs must be taken into consideration otherwise it becomes an ethical issue as to whether host countries can require vaccinations upon entry. Another issue with the method of required vaccination is the manpower that is required to screen and vaccinate everyone. Lam et al. (2015) reported that approximately 11,000 Sundanese refugees in Northern Uganda in 1994 were not screened or vaccinated upon arrival due to a lack of manpower and this may have led to a meningitis outbreak. The utilization of immunization programs would also be beneficial however it is not always a resource that is utilized as reported by Lam et al. (2015) with the Tibetan refugees in India.
Overcrowded camps with poor sanitation and the lack of safe resources are all risk factors that contribute to the spread of communicable diseases (Lam et al., 2015). If it was possible to address all these risk factors, it would be possible to reduce the infection and mortality rate caused by diseases such as VPDs. However, with the number of people being displaced, it becomes practically impossible to address all these risk factors. Even if everyone was vaccinated, the poor camp conditions can still lead to the spread of diseases. A balance between healthcare, sanitation, and safe resources would potentially be a more manageable method to prevent the spread of diseases.
Lam, E., Mccarthy, A., & Brennan, M. (2015). Vaccine-preventable diseases in humanitarian emergencies among refugee and internally-displaced populations. Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 11(11), 2627–2636. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2015.1096457
2] Displaced Populations
In cases of emergencies, displaced people leave their homes because of deliberate event, technological, and natural activities. In many places across the world, political turbulence in many regions across the world is the cause of the increased number of displaced people who flee disasters and emergencies to look for secure places. Many diseases are associated with people who have been displaced from their original residences. Some of the diseases that are common with displaced people include measles, diarrhea, malaria, and acute respiratory infections (Slama et al., 2017). These infections usually contribute to excess levels of CMR experienced among developed countries.
Causes of Diseases in Displaced People
Displaced people are vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are usually in areas where the emergency period is sort after. The life experienced in camps usually generates many other health problems. Some of the common causes linked to life in camps include psychiatric disorders, nutritional deficiencies, injuries due to violence, and psychological disorders. Due to the high levels of these diseases within the camps, search for other alternatives in done in camps. The spread of diseases will be reduced by the return of various refugees to their own areas of origin to ensure that the spread of these diseases is prevented as fast as possible.
Solutions to Diseases among Displaced Population
The control of infectious diseases amongst refugees is based on the regulation of vital needs such as shelter, food, and water. It also involves the use of simple forms of public health practices, which may include basic curative care, vaccination, and environmental sanitation. Children should also be immunized against measles (Escobio, Echevarria, Rubaki, & Viniczai, 2015). Diarrhea should be well monitored where early management and prevention are organized for the population. There should be malaria and acute respiratory infections programs in the camps. These are some of the main activities that are supposed to be opened in the refugee camp to ensure that the diseases do not spread to people in the refugee camp. The prevention programs will be supported with the use of a simple epidemiological system of surveillance. In this case, the community network consisting of home visitors and policy standardization groups will be given the work of coordinating with the management of the displaced people to ensure health amongst the displaced people.
Slama, S., Kim, H. J., Roglic, G., Boulle, P., Hering, H., Varghese, C., … & Tonelli, M. (2017). Care of non-communicable diseases in emergencies. The Lancet, 389(10066), 326-330.
Escobio, F., Echevarria, J., Rubaki, S., & Viniczai, V. (2015). Health assistance of displaced people along the Balkan route. The Lancet, 386(10012), 2475.