The Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Health Spotlight – Muntaqa Zaman

Muntaqa Zaman, post #3

The health of the Rohingya refugees remains one of the most critical issues preventing the uplift of their situation. Many of these health barriers include lack of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), communicable diseases (such as cholera, measles, HIV, and diptheria), and most importantly, mental health. A report by the National Institute of Health states: “Mental health impact on the forcibly displaced refuges are significant. Refugees are reported to suffer from the flashback of the massacre, anxiety, acute stress, recurring nightmares, sleep deprivation, eating or even speaking disorder [18]. Methodical rape on women and girls and violent deaths of family members have compounded the mental health situation of the survivors of this physical violence.” (Islam and Nuzhath). One question may arise among external and donor populations – if continued aid is being provided by multiple organizations, why do these health concerns continue to exist? What has actually been done to alleviate this crisis?

The answer is more complicated than lack of donor support or media coverage – or rather, underlies these two critical factors. In my last entry, the current political policies of the Myanmar government were observed. The world’s response to the crisis has to do with international coverage: Maynmar and Bangladesh (where the refugees are residing) are not and never have been under the world spotlight. Their status as a “periphery” country, or one of the global south, leaves them reliant on humanitarian aid to provide assistance. Their publicity fades with time – the crisis has been ongoing since 2017. As we learned in class, metropoles decide which crises or issues enter the global consciousness, and with fading interest comes fading aid. The settlements in Cox Bazar had been tended to with intensity and fervor when it had just occured, but there are few news highlights that continue to cover critical issues such as health outside of humanitarian websites and scholarly articles. As visibility wanes, the aid being funded for also declines, leading to repeated outbreaks, mental health issues, and gender-based violence cases that remain unresolved and unattended to.


“Cholera Vaccination Campaign Launched to Protect 635,000 People in Cox’s Bazar.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 9 Dec. 2019,

Islam, Mohammad Mainul, and Tasmiah Nuzhath. “Health Risks of Rohingya Refugee Population in Bangladesh: a Call for Global Attention.” Journal of Global Health, Edinburgh University Global Health Society, Dec. 2018,

“The Rohingya Refugee Crisis.” Doctors Without Borders – USA, June 2019,

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