Document Actions
  • Print
You are here: Home Research Resources Themes Health


Since 1950 World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April of each year, with the objective of raising global awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization (WHO). The theme selected by WHO for 2004 is Road Safety.  See the official WHO World Health Day 2004 page for full information.


Injury and death through transport accidents adds to the already high health risks and increased mortality rates facing refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs). These populations are often in transit. Fleeing an emergency in haste, en masse, travelling in overloaded vehicles, or as pedestrians, or attempting to move clandestinely (by moving at night or attempting hazardous border crossing points or trafficking routes) increases their risks on these journeys.

Further, these populations may have little or no medical access, nor a secure home or income whilst they try to recovery from any injuries or illnesses suffered.

However, basic issues such as protection against disease, access to clean water, sanitary conditions of refugee camps, etc. play a more important overall health role for refugees/IDPs. In assisting and protecting these populations a strong emphasis on a Primary Health Care (PHC) strategy focusing on the vital sectors of water, food, sanitation, shelter and physical planning is considered essential, alongside provision of preventive and basic curative health services.

"In an emergency, many refugees will be exposed to insecurity, poor shelter, overcrowding, lack of sufficient safe water, inadequate sanitation, inadequate or inappropriate food supplies and a possible lack of immunity to the diseases of the new environment. Furthermore, on arrival, refugees may already be in a debilitated state from disease, malnutrition, hunger, fatigue, harassment, physical violence and grief. Poverty, powerlessness and social instability, conditions that often prevail for refugees, can also contribute to increased sexual violence and spread of sexually transmitted diseases including the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)." UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies (PDF file 2305 KB)

This resource page guides users to background documents, web resources and relevant organizations selected from Forced Migration Online (FMO) that expand further on this important topic.



Selected full-text documents (for more, search in the Digital Library)


Web Resources

Selected web-based information resources (for more, search the FMO website)



Operational materials:

Relevant Organizations

Contact details for relevant organizations (for more, search in the Organizations Directory)

Filed under:
creative commons logo (CC) BY-NC-ND This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Photograph of Vietnamese returnees

Vietnam/Returnees/UNHCR funded Clinic/Pho Dong, Dong Nai Province

© UNHCR/L. Taylor

Last updated Apr 03, 2013