UNHCR-IMU partnership to provide health education to refugees

UNHCR Representative Richard Towle speaking at the MoU signing between UNHCR and IMU.
Photo: UNHCR/J.Yeo

KUALA LUMPUR, 16 August 2016 (UNHCR) – The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has partnered with local medical university, International Medical University (IMU) to provide health education to refugees.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the two parties last week. Under this partnership, IMU’s community programme called ‘IMU Cares’ will implement various projects to educate and empower young refugees to improve their health and well-being as well as adopt positive behavioural changes towards better health.

IMU Cares was established in 2002 to raise funds for charity. It has been providing healthcare to nearly 1,000 children comprising refugees, displaced individuals and Malaysian urban poor since February 2014.

“This MoU has symbolic value. It enables us to look at how we can help refugees, particularly children, to be better equipped to deal with the challenges they face out there,” said UNHCR representative to Malaysia, Richard Towle at the event launch.

This joint effort between UNHCR and IMU aims to not only improve health awareness and standards among refugees, but also help to safeguard the general health and wellbeing of all Malaysians.

“Providing the refugees with proper healthcare and health education will lower the risk of infectious diseases, hence we are also helping Malaysians and our own children,” said IMU external affairs director Prof Ong Kok Hai.

“With the help of UNHCR, IMU Cares can now reach out to young refugees and asylum-seekers, to educate and motivate them to improve their health,” he added.

As at end June 2016, there are some 151,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia, which includes some 34,000 children below the age of 18. These refugees live in low-cost and overcrowded flats or houses, with little access to hygiene and sanitation. They have access to public healthcare facilities but lack access to health information in order to make informed decisions regarding taking care of their health.

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