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Every Child Deserves a Healthy Start

World Refugee Day reminds us that, in the face of a historic displacement crisis, we must ensure every child has a healthy start to life and a chance at a brighter future.


Every year on June 20, the international community recognizes the courage, strength, and resilience of refugees and displaced people around the world and redoubles our commitment to helping them build new lives in safety, stability, and peace. This year, the call to action to protect refugee health is particularly important. Across the world, crises caused by conflict and climate change have forced record numbers of people to flee their homes. More than 110 million people have been displaced, including 43 million children, and they urgently need our support.

Global health advocate and former refugee Sifa Ndusha

Sifa Ndusha, a former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who spent four years in an Ugandan refugee camp with her three young children, knows firsthand the challenges that refugee families face, including lack of access to vaccines and other protection against deadly diseases. Read her inspiring story and powerful call to action in Devex.

Sifa’s advocacy for refugees continuing to live in difficult, unfamiliar circumstances fraught with insecurity and uncertainty reminds us that, while the scale of the need is daunting, we all have the ability to take action. It’s our responsibility to become advocates and supporters for the most vulnerable, ensuring they have access to the health services that should be everyone’s right.

Taking action

At the World Health Assembly in May, Shot@Life and United to Beat Malaria announced a new initiative—Healthy Start for Refugee Children—to provide lifesaving health services to one million refugee children living in East Africa. The region has suffered from the compounding crises of conflict and climate, which have forced millions from their homes, yet the scale of the humanitarian need has too often gone overlooked.

Watch highlights from the Healthy Start announcement at WHA, with Shot@Life Executive Director Martha Rebour and Dr. Allen Maina, Chief of Public Health at UNHCR.

With our partners at UNHCR, Healthy Start for Refugee Children will reach at least one million displaced children living in Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia with immunizations, malaria prevention and treatment, nutritional support, and more. We will also help provide training and support to community health workers, who do the critical work of outreach and healthcare provision on the ground.

Through partnerships, collaboration, and solidarity, we can ensure that refugee children get the healthy start to life that every child deserves. We are looking for partners, donors, and advocates to raise awareness and take action. Learn more about Healthy Start for Refugee Children and the ways you can get involved today.