Refugee situations in the 21st century are increasingly diverse, and expanding from low-income settings to both low- and middle-income settings alike. While infectious disease and acute malnutrition remain major challenges for millions of refugees, the existence and treatment of worldwide, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, are relatively neglected. Cancer in refugees causes substantial strain on the health systems of host countries, due to factors including high expense of treatments, dependence on specialty physician skills, and the challenges of continuous care and avoidance of treatment interruptions due to displacement. The UNHCR’s Exceptional Care Committees (EECs) have developed standard operating procedures to address expensive medical treatment for refugees in host countries, creating standards for eligibility and maximum payment.
Paul Spiegel (MD), Adam Khalifa (MD), and Farrah J. Mateen (MD) have authored a paper addressing these issues entitled “Cancer in refugees in Jordan and Syria between 2009 and 2012: challenges and the way forward in humanitarian emergencies.” They present data from funding applications for cancer treatments for refugees in Jordan (2010-2012) and Syria (2009-2012), and suggest a series of recommendations to improve prevention and treatment, including, for example, innovative financing schemes, balancing primary and emergency care with expensive referral care, and electronic cancer registries.
The full paper may be accessed here.