The health status of a camp population is often fragile and many are exposed to a complex array of threats and risk factors for disease and death. The Camp Management Agency, in coordination with the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster/Sector Lead Agency, national health authorities and health partners, should ensure that appropriate needs-based health care services, active case finding and health education are available to all camp residents so as to mitigate their vulnerabilities.
Reducing loss of life (mortality), illness (morbidity) and disability and contributing to an improved quality of life are the main goals of health services in a camp situation. Health service providers must prioritise addressing the main causes of avoidable illness and death, identify priority gaps and advocate for age, gender and diversity appropriate health interventions.
Effective health care services must engage the camp population in key decisions from the start and remain an essential part of the overall delivery and evaluation of health services. Health services should be provided with – and not for – the population.
Measles is one of the most serious health problems encountered in a camp situation and is a leading cause of death in many refugee/internally displaced person (IDP) emergencies. Initiating a mass measles immunisation campaign is a top priority for health service providers in a camp.
Prevention of diarrhoea and cholera outbreaks through hygiene promotion and access to safe water must be coordinated with Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Cluster/Sector Lead Agency and involve engagement of camp populations.
Acute malnutrition is known as a major cause of mortality in camp populations, mainly because malnutrition increases vulnerability to disease. A nutrition assessment and implementation of needs-based feeding programmes are important initial activities in the camp in order to ensure vulnerable groups and those with specific needs receive special attention, as appropriate.
While the Camp Management Agency is often not a health specialist, its key role is to ensure that concrete steps are taken with health providers to limit the impact of epidemics. The quality of camp management can be a major determinant of life and death to a camp population.
As the Camp Management Agency is often the first point of contact for camp residents or camp leaders when health emergencies occur, these types of requests for health care should be promptly referred and responded to.