The 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak was catastrophic in West Africa but the indirect impact of increasing the mortality rates of other conditions was also substantial. The increased number of deaths caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis attributable to health system failures exceeded deaths from Ebola.
With a relatively limited COVID-19 caseload, health systems may have the capacity to maintain routine service delivery in addition to managing COVID-19 cases. When caseloads are high, and/or health workers are directly affected, strategic adaptations are required to ensure that increasingly limited resources provide maximum benefit for the refugees and surrounding host population. The following are key considerations for UNHCR operations on prioritized health care services in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. These are based on WHO Guidance for Maintaining Essential Health Services and UNHCR guidance for operations and where relevant operation or site level outbreak preparedness and response plans.