Opinion: Using digital tech to improve life for refugees

December 22, 2016
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Refugee mother and child in Lebanon SEARCH

Kristian Buus / STARS

Shadi Saleh and Chaitali Sinha

Nearly one in every four people in Lebanon is a refugee. This number is staggering, yet not entirely unbelievable given the protracted and emerging conflicts in the Middle East. A rapid influx of refugees from Syria has catapulted Lebanon from the 69th largest refugee-hosting country to the third largest within the past five years. The country also hosts a large proportion of the world's Palestinian refugee population, comprising nearly 10% of the country's population.

Many of these Palestinian refugees are raising the fourth generation of their families within refugee camps. They suffer from overcrowding, inadequate housing conditions and infrastructure, and poor nutrition. These circumstances give rise to increased rates of non-communicable diseases (NCD), such as diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory infections. They also make pregnancy and childbirth more risky for women.

A health research project funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is showing how digital technologies — such as mobile phones and netbooks — can help to close the access and quality-of-service gaps for Palestinians in refugee camps and for other vulnerable populations in Lebanon.

Launched in 2014, e-Sahha is an implementation research project designed to use mobile technology, embedded in the local context, to improve the continuum of services for high-risk groups and to create the space for them to have a say in the quality of the health services they receive.

Read the full article on Development Unplugged, a Canadian Council for International Cooperation and Huffington Post blog.