Due to intense violence, large portions of population flee their homes, thus encountering many physical and mental health challenges. In addition to the lack of access to health services, these vulnerable individuals experience a loss of productivity and poor sanitation and living conditions. PAHO/WHO, in collaboration with several partners, has been engaged in an on-going project to improve the health of internally displaced populations (IDP).

In collaboration with international, national and local partners, PAHO/WHO aims to reduce emergency health needs of displaced populations and focuses activities on:

1. Improving health information

  • A vital computer tool - SIGA - is used throughout the country to register and report the delivery of health services for displaced populations. This tool helps manage information and monitor the uses of national resources for displaced persons. It also generates epidemiological reports and demonstrates the demand for health care.

2. Coordinating the health response

  • Health Round Table meetings provide a space where all actors that play a role in health and displaced populations can gather around the same table discuss current issues, make decisions and assign responsibilities to different organizations or institutions. These meetings include not only local authorities but also representatives from displaced communities as well as individuals from health insurance organizations, among others.

3. Reducing the gaps in health services for IDP

  • The Access Route to Healthcare - commonly known as the 'Ruta de Salud' - is a tool used to teach communities about their rights to healthcare access, how to obtain them and what to do if those rights are not granted. The "Route" is adapted to the local level needs in various communities and is disseminated by video, radio and printed copies.

4. Ensuring health systems function during and after a crisis

  • Emergency response teams are created at the local level to increase authorities' ability to coordinate response and provide support immediately after a mass displacement, natural disaster or any other public health emergency. These teams are trained in topics such as damage and needs assessments, shelters and mental health, and are extremely valuable in remote areas where populations have difficulty accessing healthcare.