With support from the World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) conducted the International Conference on Refugees and Diabetes at the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort and Spa between April 10-12, 2017.
Held under the theme Together for Refugees with Diabetes, Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al-Hussein was patron to the event. The conference’s participants included representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations working in the delivery of non-communicable disease (NCD) care services to refugees in MENA and neighboring regions.
More specifically, participants included representatives from ministries of Health of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Northern State of Sudan, and Palestine; the UNRWA headquarters, and its Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, West Bank, and Syria offices; the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Jordan and Lebanon; the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO-Eastern Mediterranean Office (EMRO), and the WHO country office in Palestine; the World Food Program; the WDF; UNICEF’s country office Jordan; the UNHCR in Jordan and Lebanon; NGOs from Jordan, Turkey, West African countries, Lebanon, Palestine; and hospitals and universities in the region.
EMPHNET participated in the conference as an organization that considers NCD prevention one of its core working areas and as a member of the Jordan Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (JNCDA), with its Executive Director Dr. Mohannad Al-Nsour acting as its current president. As part of their participation in the event, its representative took part in one of the conference’s working group sessions, Promotion and Awareness of Healthy Life Style among Refugees with Diabetes.
The conference responds to the health needs of the growing population of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and other neighboring countries; as well as the rising prevalence of NCDs, especially Type 2 Diabetes, among this segment of the population. Its sessions aimed to propose experience-based solutions to help prevent and control NCDs in general, and diabetes in particular, among refugees in the MENA region.
To this effect, representatives of the UNHCR, the WHO, the WDF, and UNRWA; and Ministries of Health in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq spoke about their experiences in delivering NCD care to refugees in the region. Members of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International and IOM also presented their experiences on the provision of NCD care during emergencies and refugee situations, while representatives of the American University of Beirut (AUB); the National Center Diabetes, Endocrinology and Genetics in Jordan; and Birzeit University discussed their research in diabetes care delivery in the MENA region. Moreover, there were also sessions delivered by participants from West Africa, Sudan, Turkey, and Yemen on their respective experiences in the prevention and control of diabetes among refugee populations.
The conference also featured working group sessions in which discussions were focused on available access to NCD care, surveillance, monitoring, the evaluation of NCD prevalence, particularly diabetes; and psychosocial support available to refugees with diabetes. Out of these discussions, each group gave several recommendations to tackle these issues; namely, the need to strengthen NCD surveillance systems because current results are inconsistent and lack standardization and that surveys be done in relevant areas, as the current areas investigated are outdated.
Some of the most notable outcomes of the conference were the signing of an agreement between the WDF, UNRWA, and the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS) to support NCD surveillance in Jordan; and the drafting and declaring of an Action Plan for the prevention and control of NCDs among refugees, for which a working group will be formed to ensure its implementation. Steps were also taken to activate the role of the National NCD Committee in the implementation of the National NCD Strategy, including its Terms of Reference (ToRs) and other operational areas.