A significant proportion of forced migrants live in humanitarian camps located in remote regions of the global South. Disabled persons have been historically neglected within camp programs across all service sectors, especially healthcare. This paper describes an exploratory research study on healthcare access for forced migrants with disabilities in the context of humanitarian camps. Based on the methodological framework of rapid ethnography, the research involved guided tours, community mapping exercises, ethnographic observations, and semi-structured interviews in a refugee camp in southern Africa. Additional key informants from other sites were interviewed remotely using a convenience sampling strategy. Several important insights emerged from the research including: misperceptions about the health-related needs of disabled persons, their specialized health needs falling outside the ‘social minimum’ of humanitarian healthcare, and concerns about distributional ethics in relation to disability-inclusive healthcare. The research also highlighted barriers and strategies for addressing disability-specific health needs given significant resource constraints in humanitarian camps. These findings are discussed in light of practical and theoretical challenges in the fields of disability studies and global health.
Disability and the Global South (DGS), 2015, Vol. 2 No. 1