IFD Migrant Health Dermatology Online Summit, 25 April 2020

29 April 2020

There are over 70 million refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) across the world, many of whom have limited access to skin and healthcare services. This situation has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SAMS Article
Valeska Padovese volunteering in a Syrian refugee camp

In response to this growing skin health crisis, the International Foundation for Dermatology (IFD) hosted the first Migrant Health Dermatology Online Summit on 25 April 2020 via Zoom. The purpose of the Summit was two-fold. First, to develop improvements in skin and sexual health care for refugees, migrants and IDPs. Second, to understand the challenges refugees, migrants and IDPs faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Participants and speakers from across the world, including Ethiopia, Greece, Malta and Syria, presented their field experience and research findings. They highlighted the following areas of concern:

  • Lack of integrated approach to refugee, migrant and IDP health needs, particularly with regards to skin and sexual health
  • Services, resources and strategies not tailored to local needs and challenges
  • Effects of COVID-19 on access to health services and resources
  • Heightened risk of COVID-19 in camps due to poor hygiene infrastructure and cramped living conditions
  • National and global responses to COVID-19 that do not include refugees, migrants and IDPs
  • Impact of COVID-19 on refugees’ and migrants’ mental health and well-being
  • Effects of COVID-19 on general services and resources for refugees, migrants and IDPs


To address some of the above areas of concern, participants agreed to:

  • Explore the use of popular technologies such as WhatsApp or Viber to develop teledermatology services
  • Create a platform to share resources and lessons learnt
  • Raise awareness about the effects of COVID-19 on refugees, migrants and IDPs
  • Push for greater collaboration at local, national and international levels


The IFD thanks the speakers and participants for such a positive and fruitful session. It is our intention to bring the group together for a face to face meeting once the pandemic has run its course. We look forward to continuing this important discussion about the skin health needs of refugees and migrants.


CG Trip Lebanon
Working Group member Christopher Griffiths visiting a refugee camp in Lebanon