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Supporting the health and wellbeing of refugees at home and abroad

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Jun 20, 2021

By the Philips Foundation team

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor refugees around the globe. It's an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives. The theme focuses on the power of inclusion: "Together we heal, learn and shine." The shared experience of COVID-19 empowers it: we only succeed if we stand together.

Covid-19 response in Indonesia

Photo: Daphne Wesdorp

From the outset, Philips Foundation aims to empower fragile communities through innovative solutions and strengthening local healthcare systems. Whether escaping from poverty, war or natural disaster, the rising number of refugees fleeing different parts of the world typically lack access to timely and proper healthcare services. 


In 2019, Philips Foundation pledged to help refugees in The Netherlands and overseas at the first-ever Dutch Business Summit on Refugees. Since then, Philips Foundation has committed to deploy three mobile healthcare clinics to support refugees – and supporting newcomers locally as they settle into a new environment.


Together we heal 


Following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the devastating fire in the Moria refugee camp in Greece, Philips Foundation supported Boat Refugee Foundation (Stichting Bootvluchteling) to rapidly install a mobile medical clinic to provide highly needed medical emergency and primary healthcare support to the refugees on Lesbos.


In a parallel effort, in the northern border area in Colombia, Philips Foundation and US-based NGO Preemptive Love will deploy a primary healthcare truck to provide basic medical treatment to the swelling number of migrants from Venezuela. The medical team affiliated with the primary healthcare truck is equipped to help between 50 and 75 cases per day.


In Kobane, Syria, Philips Foundation is working with Hospitainer to build a healthcare facility where AVC HumanitarianAid will provide kidney dialysis treatments to the most vulnerable patients. The dialysis center, for which there is a great need, will treat 24 to 36 patients weekly.


Covid-19 response in Indonesia

In refugee settings in Chad and Uganda, we team up with Stichting Vluchteling and the International Rescue Committee to aid the detection of childhood pneumonia as part of their Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) approach. In these environment, ICCM is often delivered by low-literate Community Health Workers, and the aim of the project is to assess whether the use of children's automatic respiratory monitor can be of added value in accurate breath rate counting, which is an indicator for pneumonia.


Together we learn

Refugees are one of the most psychologically vulnerable groups. An average refugee has survived more than six highly traumatic events in the country of origin or on the route from the country of origin. This contributes to several times higher prevalence of different.


In the Netherlands alone, thousands of undocumented people are deprived of access to essential healthcare needs. That is why Philips Foundation supported the Netherlands Red Cross with developing a digital tool to help determine undocumented people's needs in the Netherlands and provide these migrants with tailored local information to address these needs, including psychological support. The solution was successfully deployed and tested in Amsterdam and will now be scaled to at least five other Dutch cities.


Together we shine

Refugees, or newcomers, often also experience the struggle of gaining access to the labor market in the countries where they settle. Refugee Company, a foundation in the Netherlands, hires people with a refugee background as part of their affiliated mission to help them integrate into Dutch society through employment and resilience building.

Covid-19 response in Indonesia

In 2020, Philips Foundation provided a loan to help establish Refugees Company's social enterprise Mondmaskerfabriek in its initial stages. Their journey can be considered a success. Mondmaskerfabriek, which produces high-quality surgical masks in response to the global pandemic, reported that they had already made 17 million certified masks to date. The social enterprise, where nearly 50 people with a refugee background work, is officially contributing to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport's "iron stock." The assignment for the government is in its finishing stage, ending the end of August. Considering the declining need for facemasks, employees of Philips are also voluntarily helping determine and establish a new healthcare related objective for the manufacturing plant.

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