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Primary Health Care Mainstreaming of Syrian Refugees in Egypt

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INTRODUCTION

The mainstreaming of refugees into a host country’s health, education, and social service programs presents unique challenges in urban areas. Even when governments are willing to support such mainstreaming, refugees may experience numerous barriers. Also, the host communities may find that limited resources are stretched even further when accommodating a new population in need of services.

To respond to these challenges, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) adopted an urban policy in 1997 addressing the needs of urban refugees. It specified that if its goals were to be achieved, an appropriate resource base would be required, coupled with effective cooperation and support from a wide range of other actors; especially host governments and city authorities hosting the growing number of urban refugees.

In 2011, UNHCR guidelines regarding refugee health services in urban areas recommended that Syrian refugees be mainstreamed into the primary health care system of host countries to the fullest extent possible.

UNHCR’s urban policy further recognized the number of challenges that refugees face in urban areas, in comparison with other low-income urban residents. Such challenges include dealing with increased difficulty to access or afford the often overstretched health care, education, and other services on which the local population relies.

It is through this guiding UNHCR policy and the MOH decree 601/ 2012, Syrians were able to access MOH health services. The MOH and UNHCR took the lead with the support from sister UN agencies guided by the Syrian Regional Response Plan (RRP) and the Refugee Resilience Response plan (3RP) in 2015.

The mainstreaming of Syrians into MOH primary health care services was enacted as part of the efforts of the UN system in responding to the Syrian humanitarian crisis surpassing its fifth year in Egypt and other countries impacted by Syrian refugees.

The aim of this report is to document the processes that took place in Egypt starting in September 2014 to reach a full mainstreaming of the Syrian Refugees in Alexandria, Damietta, and Greater Cairo by April 2015.