During humanitarian crises and severe epidemics, life-saving care for non-communicable disease must be sustained. A 2019 household survey found high rates of hypertension, diabetes or both in Syrian refugees aged 30 years and older in northern Jordan. It is known that patients with co-morbidities are at risk of severe COVID-19 disease and, as refugees, Syrians might be under-detected by current COVID-19 surveillance programmes. Furthermore, refugee health clinics were temporarily closed in March, 2020 because of COVID-19 control measures.
This article describes how an existing community health volunteer (CHV) strategy was modified during the pandemic to support non-communicable disease care in this population.
The CHV programme enabled continuous monitoring of refugees with hypertension and diabetes during severely disrupted clinical services as well as screening for COVID-19 symptoms. Community health volunteers can extend primary care for noncommunicable diseases to refugees and counter poor continuous access to care and service disruptions caused by protracted crises and severe epidemics.
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