Health Status Report of Afghan Refugees highlights critical areas requiring immediate attention and action.

The Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees in Pakistan (CCAR), in a significant partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), has unveiled the “Health Status Report for Afghan Refugees.” This comprehensive report provides an overview of the current health landscape confronting Afghan refugees residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Muhammad Abbas Khan (Chief Commissioner for Afghan Refugees) has noted that the report not only highlights the strain on Pakistan’s healthcare system, exacerbated by the influx of Afghan refugees but also advocates for aligning interventions with global frameworks such as the UN Global Compact on Refugees. He further stated that this study has laid foundations to conduct a national study of health status of refugees residing in Pakistan, thereby setting the stage for potential policy changes.
On behalf of CCAR, he pledged to collaborate with all stakeholders to implement actionable recommendations, from strengthening community-level healthcare interventions to advocating for policy changes at the highest levels.

Dr Fayaz Ahmad, an eminent public health expert and lead author of the report, presented the scope, key findings, and salient recommendations. The report highlights the multifaceted challenges Afghan refugees face, ranging from access to healthcare services to socio-economic determinants of health.

The findings indicate that public sector PHC-level facilities (BHUs and RHCs) catering to the needs of refugee populations are working under severe resource constraints and need help to cope with this additional workload. These facilities require extra support to extend uninterrupted services for host and refugee communities.

At the policy level, there is a dire need to explore feasible options for extending the Sehat Saulat program or a similar insurance package for Afghan Refugees. Further, advocate with relevant stakeholders for including refugees in the district and facility budgeting and planning exercises. It is, lastly, working closely with the HMIS unit to ensure that the nationality of the clients can segregate the routine data collected through DHIS.

This session was followed by questions and feedback from the representatives of ECHO, UNHCR, UN-IOM, PRM, GIZ, and other organisations that mandate programming with Afghan refugees in Pakistan.  

In her closing remarks, Shabnam Baloch, Country Director of IRC-Pakistan, emphasised the need to reimagine our approach to healthcare in the face of climate-related challenges. She noted that the report’s findings underscore the urgent need for contextualised interventions to address the multifaceted health needs of Afghan refugees. The report highlights critical areas requiring immediate attention and action, from access barriers to financial constraints. Notably, it emphasises the pivotal role of community-level healthcare interventions, advocating for establishing community-based health networks within refugee settlements to benefit Afghan refugees and host communities.

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