Theses Doctoral

City Life: Three Papers Investigating the Healthcare Experience of Refugees With Noncommunicable Diseases Residing in Urban Settings Across the Middle East and North Africa

McNatt, Zahirah

The last decade has been defined by the forced displacement of an unprecedented number of people, on a scale not seen since World War II. As of 2018, more than 71 million people across the globe have been forced to migrate as a result of conflict, natural disasters, drought and famine. More than 19 million crossed international borders seeking safety, and were formally registered as refugees. Forced migration has placed stress and pressure on surrounding low-and middle-income countries. This has been most notable in the Middle East and North Africa as a result of the crisis in Syria.
Host countries in the Middle East and North Africa are overwhelmed by this rapid influx, particularly by the healthcare needs of this population. Stakeholders face difficulties providing health services to refugees, owing to the increased number of refugees in urban settings, the large demands on host country health systems and the epidemiologic transition towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Health challenges have been exacerbated by weaknesses in the global humanitarian architecture, that result in a fragmented and competitive sector that is unprepared for the current context.
Few comparative analyses have examined the diversity of policies and practices aimed at improving services for urban-based refugees with NCDs in the MENA region. Furthermore, a variety of quantitative studies examined NCD incidence, prevalence and service utilization. However, these studies have quickly become outdated and do not explore, in adequate depth, the refugee experience and perspective on accessing NCD services in urban settings. Lastly, numerous NCD interventions have been recommended for LMICs. However, very little guidance exists to support actors addressing these health concerns in crisis-affected contexts. As a result, this dissertation is presented in three papers and responds to these gaps in the literature. Each paper focuses on a specific aim and research question and together they identify and provide recommendations for improvement to service delivery and policy formulation.
Paper 1 identifies policies and practices, implemented by host countries and humanitarian actors, aimed at improving access to NCD services for urban refugees in the Middle East and North Africa. Paper 2 examines, using qualitative methods, the healthcare access experience of urban-based Syrian refugees who have been diagnosed with NCDs in Jordan. The third portion of this dissertation (Paper 3) is a policy series that provides recommendations for the government of Jordan and humanitarian actors to improve healthcare access for urban-based refugees with NCDs. It is anticipated that this series of publications will be relevant to traditional and non-traditional actors that respond to the health needs of refugees in urban settings in the MENA region.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Population and Family Health
Thesis Advisors
Landers, Cassie
Dr.P.H., Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2019