Refugee site health service utilization: More needs to be done


  • Sarah Meyer, MPhil
  • Hannah Tappis, MPH
  • William Weiss, DrPH, MA
  • Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH
  • Alexander Vu, DO, MPH



refugees, health services, refugee camps


Objective: Refugees in long-term camp-based settings are often provided health services through health systems parallel to national health systems. This article, through literature review, explores the question of health service delivery in the context of long-term refugee situations, examining in particular the impact on host national population. The objective is to identify data and themes in literature that shed light on the utilization of health services for refugees and host population.
Design: To explore this objective, a broad literature review was conducted. Literature was categorized into the following three topics: the impact of refugee camps on the health and livelihood of host population, the impact of services on access to care and health outcomes of refugee population, and the impact of services on access to care and health outcomes of host population.
Conclusions: Literature reports varied impacts of refugee hosting on host national population.The need for a contextual approach to understand the impact of refugee hosting is indicated through these findings. Some studies found that refugee hosting improved the quality and accessibility of health services and, in some cases, health outcomes for host national population; however, the data supporting integrating health services for refugees and host population are limited, and both reduce the strength of the integration argument.The overall body of evidence to reach conclusions on what is the ideal model of health service delivery for refugees and host population is limited. Improved data collection and analysis of utilization patterns for refugees and host population could strengthen program and policy design in this area.

Author Biographies

Sarah Meyer, MPhil

Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Hannah Tappis, MPH

Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

William Weiss, DrPH, MA

Assistant Scientist, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.

Paul Spiegel, MD, MPH

Chief, Public Health and HIV Section, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland.

Alexander Vu, DO, MPH

Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland; Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


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How to Cite

Meyer, MPhil, S., H. Tappis, MPH, W. Weiss, DrPH, MA, P. Spiegel, MD, MPH, and A. Vu, DO, MPH. “Refugee Site Health Service Utilization: More Needs to Be Done”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 6, no. 4, July 2011, pp. 231-42, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2011.0062.