Reportable neurologic diseases in refugee camps in 19 countries

Department of Neurology, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Neurology (Impact Factor: 8.29). 08/2012; 79(9):937-40. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318266fcf1
Source: PubMed


Approximately one-third of refugees worldwide live in refugee camps. Selected neurologic diseases are actively reported in some refugee camps.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees monitors health visits in refugee camps with the assistance of more than 25 partner organizations using standardized case definitions. Neurologic diseases were selected and searched for the years 2008 to 2011. The number of health care visits for a neurologic disease was calculated and divided by the aggregated number of reporting months available for each refugee camp ("visits per camp-month").
Five neurologic diseases were reported from 127 refugee camps in 19 countries. Visits for chronic, noncommunicable diseases including epilepsy (53,941 visits in 1,426 camp-months, 48% female) and cerebrovascular disease (4,028 visits in 1,333 camp-months, 51% female) far exceeded those for neurologic infectious diseases (acute flaccid paralysis/poliomyelitis, 78 visits in 3,816 camp-months, 42% female; leprosy, 74 visits in 3,816 camp-months, 66% female; meningitis, 477 visits in 3,816 camp-months, 51% female). In 2011, these diseases accounted for 31,349 visits globally with 91% of visits for epilepsy.
Targeted programs addressing epilepsy and stroke among refugees in camps should become a priority and indicate that other chronic neurologic diseases that may be under- or misdiagnosed may also be common in refugee camps. Given that significant under-reporting is likely, our findings demonstrate the pressing need for coordinated preventive and interventional measures for epilepsy and stroke in refugee camps.

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