IOM, Frontend to Develop Healthcare Access Solutions for Displaced People

Switzerland - IOM and an Irish design consultancy,, have announced plans to develop technological solutions to some of the healthcare challenges facing migrants, refugees and other displaced people around the world.

"When we spoke to the IOM, we realized that their challenges boiled down to two things; movement and communication. Currently with the crisis in Europe, migrants are moving from one area to another, making it difficult to provide continuity of care. We needed to open up communication between agencies, migrants and healthcare systems,” said Frontend Director Frank Long.

Frontend and IOM, working with masters design students at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Limerick, Institute of Technology Carlow and the National College of Art and Design, are responding by developing a standardized medication label concept, which conveys essential information graphically/visually and therefore avoids language barriers and helps people with literacy challenges.

Another concept under development is a cloud-based system that will allow migrants and refugees to upload, store and translate test results wherever they are during the migration process.

“We have reimagined the healthcare system from the bottom up to allow it to work remotely anywhere in the world and bridge the gaps between the various service providers. The system we have conceptualized would allow humanitarian health staff to conduct tests and provide results to the migrants wherever they are, after they have left a camp,” said Long.

Through this system patients will be able to connect with doctors, volunteering their time from the comfort of their offices, who speak a familiar language and can be accessed remotely. The system can aid, not just online communication, but could also assist face-to-face communication through a one-touch translation feature facilitating doctor-patient conversations.

“Using location information from the phone, we can provide details on nearby health clinics and support which could benefit migrants in an emergency situation. This location information could also be anonymized and returned to IOM to help it to manage logistics and provide more focused care,” said Long.

"The current refugee and migration flows to and within Europe, as well as humanitarian emergencies in many other parts of the world, pose a real challenge in terms of accessible healthcare and our task, along with our partners such as Frontend, is to come up with good and innovative solutions. In this instance, good design and effective use of technology can help resolve some of the problems that affected people are facing,” said Dr. Teresa Zakaria, IOM’s Migration Health Emergency Operations Coordinator.

"Everyone in the world has a human right to access healthcare, and as a global society we have built frameworks to ensure that we look after one another. But frameworks sometimes break down, especially in times of crisis and this challenges us to catch those falling through the net,” she added.

For further information, please go to or watch this video: A downloadable version of the video can be accessed at

For further information, please contact Dr. Teresa Zakaria at IOM HQ, Email: or John Buckley at, Tel:  +353 857067012, Email: