In a comment published in the September 6 issue of The Lancet, several leaders from the Diaspora Health Network made a compelling case for the inclusion of diaspora in humanitarian efforts.
"Diaspora health workers, irrespective of where they reside, are ideally poised to play a crucial role in the development of emergency response and health systems in their countries of origin. Members of the diaspora have close cultural and linguistic ties to those countries, which can create strong local grassroots partnerships that lead to a better understanding of the health needs of the population. Diaspora health workers have often had part or most of their medical training in developing countries, which means they might more readily adapt to local conditions and can provide culturally competent care. The well established professional, community, and familial networks that diaspora enjoy in their countries of origin also make them an unparalleled source for decoding local wisdom, power structures, and customs leading to the success of health programmes at the community level. Finally, they are self-motivated and often have a special interest in the long-term improvement of health care in their countries of origin, an asset that can be used to foster durable relationships that build on local capacity, " wrote Neeraja Nagarajan, Blair Smart, and Joseph Nwadiuko in the piece.
"There is an urgent need for all stakeholders—governments in LMICs and high-income countries, non-profit organisations, academic institutions, and development agencies—to create a blueprint that lays down clear strategies for the organisation, preparation, and engagement of diaspora health workers in health system strengthening and emergency preparedness. Diaspora health workers deserve an integrated platform and organised opportunities to develop meaningful, long-term, and sustainable engagements that improve health in LMICs, during times of crisis and beyond."
The Diaspora Health Network is working actively with groups, including with the American Nepal Medical Foundation to support capacity and build humanitarian response capacity both during and before crises. You can read the piece here (gate passable by free login).