At of the beginning of 2013, over 10.4 million refugees worldwide were reported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the primary world agency responsible for the protection and care for refugees, for being forced to leave their country of origin. In addition to this number, over 29 million are displaced within their country of origin from their homes. Refugees are persons displaced by complex emergencies, natural disasters, or out of fear of persecution for race, religion, nationality, or socio-economic class, and to return to their country of origin or habitual residence.
The major locations of conflict and emergency that currently displace refugees include Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. When refugees are forced to leave their homes, they leave behind personal belongings and are forced to survive often without resource and at loss of family. In these circumstances, persons are forced into mentally stressful events, are susceptible to illness, disease, and trauma, and often have limited to no access to health care.
In addition, clinical treatment of both communicable and non-communicable illness is interrupted. Refugees are forced into camps that have loose or no organized infrastructure, poor access to potable water and sanitation, and expose persons to major burdens of disease such as malnutrition, fertility complications, parasites, and more. Because most refugees go through a traumatic experience, lose a loved one, become impoverished, homeless and other losses, they often suffer from mental and clinical illnesses such as Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and other co-dominant complications. Even worse, these camps rarely have established healthcare systems these concerns.
While the quality of health is improving for refugees as a result of better technology, transportation, greater access to low-tech cheap products and medications, and increased worldwide political attention, many challenges still remain. The severity of natural disasters and emergencies are increasing. Inadequate competent care is provided to persons of different culture, religion, and race. Women, children, and elderly are extremely susceptible to the threats of refugee lifestyle. As care for these persons intensifies, there is a greater call and need for aid, assistance, and training in how to care for refugees.