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Students Help Syrian Refugees

Students Help Syrian RefugeesTo assist more than 1 million refugees who have fled war-torn Syria, Alicia Hernandez and Jonathan Strong spent part of their MPH program in Lebanon.

Working with faculty in the Bloomberg School’s Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, the pair gathered vital information on refugees’ conditions in camps and cities. They found that basic health care and necessities like running water, fuel and sanitation facilities were often scarce.

Hernandez, a registered nurse, surveyed the displaced Syrians about their health and medical needs. She used the information gathered to devise a training manual for community health educators. A majority of those she encountered during her research were children and women—many of them pregnant—who lacked even basic items like blankets. She met one family living in a building that was under construction last winter. “Even in the daytime it felt like being in an ice cube,” Hernandez recalls.

Strong’s focus was on elderly Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Many lacked access to affordable, basic health care, making their chronic diseases like diabetes difficult to manage. “The high cost of health care there poses a huge public health challenge,” Strong says. “Many of the Syrian refugees I spoke to in Lebanon are forgoing necessary medical care due to cost.”

Both Strong and Fernandez visited the region for work supported by the Caritas Lebanon Migrant Center.

The information that Hernandez, Strong and other researchers collected will help guide donor and humanitarian organizations’ assistance, says Shannon Doocy, PhD ’04, an International Health associate professor who is leading two studies of Syrian refugees.

Read more about the students' work in Johns Hopkins Public Health: Health in Conflict: Syria's Refugees

Learn more about the MPH program: http://www.jhsph.edu/academics/degree-programs/master-of-public-health/

Read about the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/center-for-refugee-and-disaster-response/