Training and deployment of lay refugee and internally displaced persons to provide basic health services in camps
Citation: Ehiri JE, Gunn JK, Center KE, Li Y, Rouhani M, Ezeanolue EE. Training and deployment of lay refugee/internally displaced persons to provide basic health services in camps: a systematic review. Global Health Action 2014; 7: 23902
What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a great strain on routine healthcare workers and health systems and the shortage of health workers in refugee camps and settlements is particularly concerning. The training of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to act as volunteer or paid peer health workers might help to address this.
In this systematic review, the authors searched for studies of the effects of interventions that trained and deployed lay refugees or IDPs for the provision of basic health services to women, children and families in camps. They did not restrict their search by date or language of publication and did the search in June 2014. They included 10 studies, from Africa, South America and Asia.
What works: Trained lay refugees or IDPs working as peer health workers increase service delivery, knowledge about disease symptoms and prevention, treatment seeking and protective behaviors, and access to reproductive health information.
Having trained lay refugees who are the same gender and same culture as those who are in need of health care improved uptake of health services.
What doesn’t work: Interventions were less successful when other refugees believed that the trained refugees may gain public health benefits from their position.
What’s uncertain: The impact of the training and deployment of lay refugees or IDPs as health workers in camps on health outcomes is uncertain.
It is uncertain whether lay refugees improve their social status and the possible implications of this if they do so.
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