Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) has partnered with Columbia University in New York City to develop a mobile healthcare app so that Syrian refugees in Turkey can have better access to healthcare information, the organization said yesterday.
Earlier this month, the ICDF — the nation’ s dedicated foreign aid organization chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) — agreed to collaborate with Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development on the Refugees Act and Communicate for Health (REACH) project, ICDF Secretary-General Timothy Hsiang (項恬毅) told a news conference in Taipei.
The university reached out about collaborating on the project after the organization visited the center last year, he said, adding that the ICDF has promoted public healthcare in many nations.
Photo courtesy of the ICDF
This is the first time that the organization has worked with the university and the first time that it would be participating in a humanitarian aid project in Turkey, he added.
As part of the arrangement, an ICDF volunteer is to spend one year in Istanbul, a metropolitan area that hosts many refugees, the organization said.
The volunteer would assist center staff in setting up and running the program, facilitating communication between the project and community groups, and learning the users’ needs, it said.
The ICDF is working with the university on developing requirements for the position, it added.
Initially, the mHealth (mobile health) app would have basic information, such as telephone numbers and addresses, for local healthcare facilities, while other features are to be added based on users’ needs, the organization said.
To advocate for the healthcare rights of refugees, the REACH project plans to create a Web site, host panels and photography exhibitions, and publish media and policy reports, Hsiang said.
The project also seeks to publish relevant research in international scientific journals, he said.
It hopes to raise awareness about refugee health by fostering dialogue and cooperation among refugee youth, local youth, the Turkish government, local non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and other groups and individuals, he said.
Since Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011, 5.6 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries, the organization said, adding that Turkey has taken in about 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, the most of any nation.
Although the Turkish government provides free healthcare to registered refugees within its borders, the healthcare information that refugees can receive is impeded by factors such as geographic location, financial ability and language barriers, the organization added.
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