The Struggles of Refugees in Turkey

By: Ekinsu Kabadayi

The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has affected many countries and continents in a very short time. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic and asked countries to take stringent measures to stop the spread of the virus. That same day, the Turkish Ministry of Health, announced the first positive case of COVID-19 in Turkey, and days later the first virus-related death occurred on March 15, 2020.

Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide and has the largest number of registered Syrian refugees in the world among whom almost half are children. Presently there are 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees with close to 330,000 persons from other nationalities reşiding in Turkey, as they are forcibly displaced due to conflict, violence, and persecution. The majority of refugees in Turkey live outside the camps and over 98% of Syrians under temporary protection live in urban and rural areas with less than 2% residing in temporary accommodation centers. The Coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly has had and continues to have many social, economic, educational, cultural, and health effects on refugees in Turkey. Worldwide migrants and refugees comprise a vulnerable population group and are presented with a significantly higher risk of exposure to the virus and other infections, as they stay in overcrowded settings with poor ventilation, poor hygiene, limited access to water supply and sanitation facilities, a minimal number of employment opportunities, and limited access to the health-care services.

Research studies conducted among refugees in Turkey by the Association Of Solidarity With Refugees And Migrants (n=1.162), stated that 40% of people needed to apply to health services for various reasons during the epidemic.15% of these people stated that they could not benefit from health services, 57% of participants with children said that their children can be followed up regularly for vaccination and 68% of people who needed regular medication stated that they could not obtain their medication. The results of the survey showed that 83% of the participants stated that they had sufficient information about the COVID-19 outbreak. The participants indicated that they mostly accessed the information through social or other written/visual media and 19% stated that they accessed it through their neighbors or friends. Nearly 10% of the participants were informed through the Ministry of Health which is the most reliable source for accessing accurate information.  

Besides these views, the economic crisis unleashed by the outbreak of COVID-19 is hurting economies, regardless of income level. Many workers have lost their jobs and even several firms have closed down. During the containment process, many local workers as well as refugees lost their jobs and had difficulty in defraying their expenditures. In the previously mentioned research among the refugees in Turkey, 63% stated they had difficulty in accessing food, and 53% said they had difficulty meeting basic hygiene requirements. People whose mandatory spending and payments were affected after the COVID-19 measures stated that they had difficulty in paying their rents, invoices, and basic supplies.

As in many other countries, schools and universities have closed and moved to online platforms and remote education to contain the spread of coronavirus. The COVID-Sectoral Analysis of Impacts on Refugees in Turkey state that 70% of the Education Sector Survey participants children are still enrolled in school. However, 48% of the children enrolled in school could not benefit from remote education and were unable to follow the lessons on television or online because they did not have the necessary technological devices such as television, computers, etc.

Although the majority of people have sufficient knowledge of COVID-19, the increase in unemployment and lack of regular income worsens the accommodation and conditions of people. Developing action as the global community and intervening to respond to the sensitivity and needs of refugees is essential. It has been predicted that the livelihood of people living with daily wages will not be sustainable if the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged. 

As students against COVID, raising awareness about refugees in Turkey and their suffering is important as human beings. It is important to strengthen the focus on providing psychosocial support to the affected population, to ensure that refugees have access to accurate and reliable information about COVID-19 and to inform them to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, how to use a mask and how to protect themselves and their family against COVID. Especially during pandemic steps should be taken to raise awareness to improve the living standards of refugees. No person anywhere should have to put themselves at risk of human rights violations. 

Misinterpreted Mental Health

By: Nimisha Ajaikumar

Mental health disorders are prevalent in the current age, affecting one in four people, according to the World Health Organisation. Most people, regrettably, have devised a stigmatizing outlook of mental illness due to the extremely incorrect portrayals by pop culture. People mistakenly believe that those having a mental disorder are ‘crazy and dangerous beings who should be sent to a mental asylum,’ away from the public eye. Here is a list of five most common yet misinterpreted mental disorders.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

When people hear the word OCD, they visualize a neat-freak who continually washes his/her hands or arranges his/her shoes in a perfect line. However, OCD is much more than a penchant for tidiness. As the name suggests, people with OCD have an obsessive, irrational, and uncomfortable thought that they cannot stop thinking about. It could be something morbid like, “Today my family members will die in a car crash.” To free themselves from this obsession, they engage in compulsive, repetitive, and seemingly unrelated routines. So a person might ring his doorbell exactly five times so that his family is safe on the road. 

I had an experience with a man with OCD, who believed that he would have no friends if he did not participate in his compulsive routines. He did not have any friends, to begin with so when he reached out to me, I assured him, “I will still be your friend even if you do not wash your hands.” Such a simple sentence was so relieving for him. He excitedly told me the next day that he did not feel the need to participate in his routine. So it would be great if you regularly take out the time to provide emotional support to somebody in need.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder involves an intense phobia of social situations. People with this disorder, dread being seen in public and having to interact with others. Just imagining being out there in the open having a conversation with somebody makes their palms sweat, heart race and blood pressure rise. They experience nausea, fainting spells and breathing difficulties in social situations. 

People wrongfully associate introversion, shyness and stage fright with social phobia. Social phobia is when individuals experience physical symptoms by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system due to misreading social situations as threatening, and should not be confused with stage fright and introversion.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

DID is a personality disorder in which the self dissociates into different alters (personalities), usually as a response to childhood trauma. Several personalities share one body, each having a purpose of protecting the host personality from stressors. Thus, one woman may have five personalities, each with different genders, accents, interests, and goals. Work-life and relationships are exhausting because this disorder is highly stigmatized and usually kept a secret. This stigma arises due to the misinterpretation that a ‘murderous personality’ will take over the host and go on a killing spree, as shown in the film, ‘Split.’ The bitter truth is that these people mostly harm themselves as they contemplate suicide as an escape from this ‘exhausting existence.’ Other people also falsely assume that these alters can be exorcised from the ‘possessed body.’ 


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that entails delusions, hallucinations, and catatonia. Simply put, people with this illness have bizarre thoughts and tend to sense people and things that are not present in reality. Hearing voices and seeing dangerous creatures is a torturous experience for someone with schizophrenia, and they feel invalidated because everybody else acknowledges this as a figment of their imagination.

Sadly, these people are portrayed in films and TV series as murderous monsters with an unlimited bloodlust. Thus, the general public fears them rather than supporting them. In reality, people with schizophrenia are rarely fatal to others. They are more likely to harm themselves, mainly because they are too lonely to have a well-wisher who can remind them about reality. –


Depression is a common mental disorder but still heavily misinterpreted. People with depression experience prolonged sadness, worthlessness, and pessimism. Due to this, they find no meaning in their existence and tend to be extremely unproductive. Others overlook this for laziness and blame them for behaving like a ‘sloth.’ They are forced to get over the issue instead of being ‘so sensitive.’ We can save a life by validating their emotions and reminding them of their worth. They should not be made to feel rejected and unwanted.


People suffering from any mental illness deserve to be assured that “there will be a bright and positive side to their life.” They should not be stigmatized and ostracised but supported so that they do not feel abandoned in their struggle. Even a smile and a few words of kindness can mean a lot to someone who is forever fighting a war with their illness. It is high time we educate ourselves on mental illness and silence the stigma against it. We cannot afford to lose more lives due to their feeling shunned and misunderstood.

Nimisha Ajaikumar
Nimisha Ajaikumar

I am an aspiring clinical psychologist currently pursuing my Bachelor’s in Dubai. I’m passionate about mental health and I wish to make a difference in the world by making mental health facilities more accessible to all. I believe that many strive to raise awareness but only few are actually taking action. I am one of those few. I destigmatise and simplify Psychology concepts on my blog, Silence the Stigma, and demonstrate how we can apply these skills in our daily life.

Representation of suicide in fiction

By: Hasitha Durgavajjhala

For as long as humans have told stories, the concept of suicide has been folded in as a palatable way to depict turmoil. Tragedy in itself is too abstract to fully grasp on to, so storytellers have learned to channel it through accessible tropes. Romeo and Juliet chose to poison themselves rather than being separate, Javert jumped off a bridge when he realised morality and legality were not synonymous, Tony Stark snapped his fingers to save the universe. The audience may never truly understand the desperation of ill-fated love, the terror of personal principles dissipating, or a superhero’s magnitude of sacrifice. They may however understand the feeling of fear, the desire to escape one’s wrongdoings or  even a single tear at the thought of a child left parentless. All these situations maybe unlikely for the general viewer, but they serve as an easy way to depict the weight of emotional burdens.

In the early 2000s, conversations about mental health were rare in the mainstream, and the subjects were still  considered a taboo. At this time, children’s literature was shifting quickly from mass-produced pulp fiction to young adult novels. Specifically, young adult dystopian series like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson became a staple genre almost overnight. These series all tended to follow a pattern – a teenage lead with a tragic past would suddenly find out that they are the “Chosen One” and set out on a quest to defeat a series of villains. In the process, they would learn the horrific truth – in order to save the day, the protagonist would have to sacrifice themselves. They would spend most of the last installation of the series struggling with this idea and eventually come to peace with it. When Harry Potter faced Voldemort, he fully expected to die. He survived thanks to a clever narrative work-around, that the “evil” parts of him had been killed, but he himself came out alive because he chose to survive. What could have been a theme too dark for children’s story was quickly re-framed as a moral tale about perseverance.

Suicide in this genre is not framed as a mental health issue. Rather, it is shown to be inevitable – that in order to gain peace, something just as precious must be sacrificed. The goal of these stories was always to show that any child as “normal” as the readers could easily be a hero should they step up to the challenge – that even if all the protagonist has to offer is their life, they would be brave enough to give even that away for the greater good.

In the mid-2010s, conversations about mental health grew more frequent, especially on the internet. Topics that were previously taboo were brought out more, and pushes were made to have productive discussions about common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. By pure coincidence, this was the same time as the third golden age of television. The result of this coincidence was the production of many new TV shows trying to portray mental health issues. Shows like Fleabag, Bojack Horseman and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are widely acclaimed for skilful and realistic portrayals of mental health issues.

Many shows have talked about suicide, but one that has, controversially, stayed in the forefront of the genre is Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. Adapted from the Jay Asher novel of the same name, the story follows high schooler Clay Jensen, who traces a series of cassette tapes left by former classmate Hannah Baker chronicling the situations that led to her suicide. The book itself was met with mixed responses, but the show was widely criticised for its portrayal of mental health issues. It features a long scene graphically showing Hannah’s method of committing suicide, as well as depictions of self-harm and sexual violence. The suicide scene in particular was deemed unnecessarily gory by viewers, and many mental health experts have agreed that it violated the guidelines of depiction of suicide. Immediately after the release of the show, there was a marked increase in teen suicide rates as well as an increase in the web searches for methods to commit suicide.

13 Reasons Why attempts honest conversations about mental health, but it was overshadowed by how the gory scenes were sensationalised, particularly the suicide scene. Regardless of the intentions, the impact of the show has been an increase in teen suicides and triggering of mental health issues in vulnerable individuals. It stands as a good example of why mental health representation should be handled sensitively.

A more subtle, and perhaps more realistic, representation of suicide is in the popular Korean drama, 쓸쓸하고 찬란하神 – 도깨비 (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God).  The story follows Kim Shin, a Goblin who is punished with near immortality for the lives he took protecting his country. The only way he can die is if the sword in his chest is removed by his fated bride. Ji Eun-Tak, a high schooler with a tragic past, has known she is the Goblin’s bride since she was a child, but does not know what that entails. The show deals with the metaphysics of death on a much more obvious stage, with the second male lead being a Grim Reaper, and “the Almighty” being an unseen yet constantly referenced being, assumed to be orchestrating everything. The themes of suicide are masked by questions about fate and fear but still they are prevalent throughout the show.

Kim Shin is shown to want to die from the moment he gains immortality, and is frustrated by his inability to do so. To him, his own death is not a tragedy, but rather a sweet relief. The show goes against expectations by showing Kim Shin and Eun-Tak as two sides of the same coin: Kim Shin, who has waited centuries for death, represents life in all its burdens and beauties. Eun-Tak, who has waited a decade to finally be able to live, represents death in its blunt suddenness. Kim Shin’s centuries-long desire for death is suddenly within reach, yet he finds himself finally wanting to live day by day. The cocktail of emotional portrayed – exhaustion, fear, indecision, longing – shine through the fantastical elements of the story to show the reality of the nature of suicide.

In the film industry, a personal standout among the many films depicting suicide is The Skeleton Twins. Starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as long-estranged twins. The film starts with Milo and Maggie simultaneously attempting suicide but only for Maggie to be interrupted as she gets a call from a hospital that her brother has been admitted for attempting suicide. The story follows the siblings reconnecting after a decade, and slowly healing through their rekindled relationship. It portrays the tough reality of invisible mental illness – the main characters are aware of their issues, but are simultaneously in denial. Suicide in this film is neither an attention-grab nor a tragedy, it is an escape from the exhaustion of existence. It weaves through the story to explain the characters’ emotions but is never used as an excuse to justify their actions.

In musical theatre, Dear Evan Hansen has stood out as a successful musical that openly deals with the themes of suicide. The story follows Evan Hansen, who is mistaken as the best friend of Connor Murphy, a classmate who recently committed suicide. Rather than immediately clearing up the confusion, Evan gets entangled in a web of lies trying to pretend that it was true. He uses the mistake to create a campaign for suicide and mental health awareness, all while making increasingly immoral choices. The representation of suicide in Dear Evan Hansen is interesting in that the actual victim is actually only in a handful scenes and the rest of his appearances are as Evan’s imagination of him. The show is a great mediation on how suicide affects the life’s of  people around the victim and the legacy left behind in teen suicides.

The purpose of art is to reflect the world and to leave an impression for  the future generation’s of how the people of the past experienced the world. To that end, increased representation of suicide and of mental health issues as a whole, is important in order to showcase the shift towards sensitivity and healing that society now seems to be pushing towards. However, rather than sensationalising it, the focus should be on realistic and sensitive depictions. Suicide is a multi-faceted phenomenon. There is no one way to fully describe what leads to a suicide or what comes after. Perhaps no art will ever be able to perfectly capture it but  even if they are able to stimulate meaningful conversations, they  will definitely helping saving a life.

Hasitha Durgavajjhala
Hasitha Durgavajjhala

A student pursuing a Master’s degree in biotechnology in Noida, India, and a member of SAC’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness campaign. A passionate advocate for mental health. Lover of TV, sunsets and my cat.

Covid19 Vaccine- A race for life

Written By: Hana Iqbal

Overcrowded hospitals, overworked doctors and nurses, crippling economy, stock market crashes, quarantines and isolations, unemployment, human rights issues, protests, and; one solution- The Vaccine.

It’s a vaccine that’s most likely to bring an end to the pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been on edge; as they are busy researching for the vaccine[1]; waiting for a breakthrough.. Over 135 vaccines are undergoing development at a pace we have never seen before. 

What exactly do we want from this vaccine and What is our ‘goal’?

It is to generate an immune response with fewer (adverse) side-effects.

The world’s first Phase III trials of an inactivated vaccine for COVID-19 are being held in the United Arab Emirates. ‘A shot for humanity’ is taken by the  volunteers. UAE was chosen due to its diverse population. With over 107 nationalities taking part in the program, UAE had reached the 15,000 target volunteers in less than a month.[1]

CoronaVac (China), mRNA-1273(US), Ad5-nCoV(China) and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) live-attenuated vaccine are among other candidates in Phase III.

US-based Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech announced positive results for the Phase 1 trial of their second Covid-19 vaccine candidate, revealing that the latest vaccine candidate has fewer side effects than their first. 332 people who received either vaccine, referred to as vaccines B1 or B2 – and indeed, B2 recipients experienced markedly fewer adverse events tied to the vaccine.[2]

Both vaccines use mRNA – the genetic messenger that our body uses to make the DNA code into proteins – packaged inside a fatty capsule, called a lipid nanoparticle, that allows it to get into cells. The mRNA instructs cells to make a protein, which then triggers the immune system into action.[2]  It is expected to come in early  October.

Meanwhile, phase III clinical trials for a Russian coronavirus vaccine are due to run in the Philippines from October to March 2021. Saudi Arabia too announced plans to conduct a clinical trial of another China-developed vaccine on at least 5,000 volunteers. The vaccine has produced an immune response in earlier trials in China. [3] Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become widely available by mid-2021[4]

Meanwhile, let’s stick to washing hands, sanitizing, wearing masks and gloves, and staying at home as much as is possible from our side!


  1. Helga Jensen-Forde | Reach by Gulf News. “A Shot for Humanity: UAE’s Vaccine Trial for Covid-19.” Health – Gulf News, Gulf News, 16 Aug. 2020,
  2. Ians. “Covid-19: Pfizer-BioNTech Second Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Less Side Effects.” Khaleej Times, Khaleej Times, 21 Aug. 2020,
  3. “UAE’s Phase III COVID-19 Inactivated Vaccine Trial Achieves Milestone of 15,000 Vaccinated Volunteers from 107 Nationalities.” Wam,
  4.  Gallagher, James. “Coronavirus Vaccine: When Will We Have One?” BBC News, BBC, 21 July 2020,

Hana Iqbal
Hana Iqbal

Born and raised in UAE, Hana Iqbal is a 3rd year medical student with love for writing, research and everything that has to do with making a positive impact. With her work, she hopes to motivate and help people to live life to their fullest. One quote she lives by is “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”− Einstein, 1929.

Music is a fundamental attribute of the human species. Virtually all cultures, from the most primitive to the most advanced, make music. From the earliest days of civilization, music has been used to heal the body and soul, and to express what is difficult to articulate in words. Music is in many ways the fabric of our lives and the definition of society.

Music has a great impact on mental health and music therapy, combined with talk therapy boosts dopamine levels, the hormone which plays a role in reward-motivation behavior. Studies conducted by researchers have found that music releases the hormone dopamine, the feel-good chemicals in our brain. It has also been found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed. It may be obvious to us, but it is strong evidence for the link between music and mental wellbeing.

Music acts as a medium for processing emotions, trauma, and grief—but music can also be utilized as a regulating or calming agent for anxiety or dysregulation.1

Listening and creating music within a therapeutic context allows individuals to express themselves in nonverbal ways. The interplay of melody, harmony, and rhythm stimulate the senses of a person and promote calmness by slowing down the breath, heart rate, and other bodily functions.

The notion that music can influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors probably does not come as much of a surprise. If you’ve ever felt pumped up while listening to your favorite fast-paced rock anthem or been moved to tears by a tender live performance, then you easily understand the power of music to impact moods and even inspire action.

Listening to music, at least music with a slow tempo and low pitch, can calm people down even during highly stressful and painful events. It can also help with pain management, for example during childbirth.

So, instead of thinking of music as pure entertainment, consider some of the major mental benefits of incorporating music into your everyday life. You might find that you feel more motivated, happy, and relaxed as a result. Whenever you feel low, do try to listen to music that you like. Start your journey towards healing through music. Make it a part of your life and feel it.

Do check out our Spotify playlists specially created for helping us throughout the ups and downs of life.

Spotify playlist links:

1)    Playlist 1- Good vibezzz, my friend, you are not alone! To help you find motivation

2)     Playlist 2- Sounds of Nature. To help you relax!


1. Perry: Rhythm Regulates the Brain. Accessed August 31, 2020.

Mahima Saptarshi
Mahima Saptarshi

A second year medical student in Mumbai, India. Very passionate about mental health and wishes to see a world where everyone can be unapologetically themselves!
“Students against COVID has been a wonderful platform for students across the globe to connect and form long lasting bonds!”

Priyanka Singh
Priyanka Singh

A final year Master’s in Biotechnology student from GNIPST, Kolkata, India. Avid member of “Suicide Prevention and Awareness” Campaign. Suggested to include ‘The role of music to spread positivity and help people to avoid negative thoughts’ for the campaign.
“Mahima was an amazing project partner who helped me throughout, without her it was impossible to complete this work. Subha, one our leads was always there for us, guiding us and helping us whenever we needed. Thank you Leah, Gul ,Subha and Komal for providing me this opportunity. Thanks to the entire team for always supporting us .”

HERSTORY- Not A Fairy Tale

Why is that something that is so fundamental to Women end up being the most controversial in the Developmental agenda?

Joyce Banda (Former President of Malawi)         

Women’s bodies continue to give birth to all of civilization and yet have been neglected for centuries. The situation has been worsened by the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. Around the world, women face a variety of heightened risks due to the pandemic, be it health instability, economic instability or lack of social protection. The Sexual and Reproductive Women’s Health sector has undeniably been affected and calls for immediate measures to curb the situation.

Although WHO issued its guidance to continue giving the essential services across the globe, the sexual health sector often goes unacknowledged. Many health care centres are shut down imposing a threat to safe delivery care services. Reduced antenatal visits and follow-ups, diversion of the healthcare professionals and resources to response efforts, and doctors fearing the risk of infection threatens to exacerbate limited access to care and negatively impacts women’s health. As witnessed during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014-2016, the use of reproductive and maternal healthcare services plummeted so much that maternal and neonatal deaths and stillbirths indirectly caused by the epidemic outnumbered direct Ebola-related deaths.(1)

The situation has been compounded by deprioritisation of important services like safe abortion and access to contraception services. Natalie Kanem, the executive director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), predicts that there could be up to 7 million unintended pregnancies worldwide because of the crisis, with potentially thousands of deaths from unsafe abortion and complicated births due to inadequate access to emergency care.(2)More unsafe births, less access to contraceptives and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases can escalate the number of active HIV cases, and cervical cancers, thus adding to the burden.

Travel restrictions imposed by the governments, shortage of medications, clinicians and resources, lack of awareness and credible information, fear of taking public transportation in the midst of a pandemic seem to be major obstacles in seeking reproductive healthcare particularly in low income societies. The World Health Organization reports that one in three women experience sexual violence which has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.(3) In South Africa, a national hotline that receives reports of sexual violence saw a three-fold spike in calls after the country-wide lockdown took effect.But while there was an increase in reports, there was a simultaneous decrease in clinic visits for accessing care for sexual violence.(4)

The COVID-19 pandemic should not be treated as an excuse to restrict women’s access to essential sexual and reproductive healthcare services. Safeguarding basic healthcare rights should be an integral part of the pandemic response efforts. There must be a more equal distribution of the decision making power in the healthcare system. Telemedicine and strengthening comprehensive sexual education can be used to expand access to sexual and reproductive health services. Women’s healthcare rights need to be protected, now and always

Dispel the Ignorance, Act with Prudence.”


(1). Khalid F. Implications of Covid-19 on maternal health: Lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. DAWN.COM. Published 2020. Accessed August 27, 2020.

(2). Published 2020. Accessed August 27, 2020.

(3). COVID-19 intensifies ‘brutal crime’ of sexual violence in conflict. UN News. Published 2020. Accessed August 27, 2020.

(4). Women and girls face greater dangers during COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors Without Borders – USA. Published 2020. Accessed August 27, 2020.

Harkiran Kaur
Harkiran Kaur

Final Year Medical Student, India

The Human Rights of Syrian Refugees

Human rights are the moral principles of standard human behavior inherent to people of all race, identity, nationality, gender, religion, and any other status.1 These rights are protected by legal authorities to promote the fundamental freedom of individuals, such as guarding the rights of individuals suffering from violations, in the form of abuse and torment in physical or emotional forms. Furthermore, human rights serve as a reminder inherent to all beyond socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, although the protection of the vulnerable is stated through numerous laws, upholding human rights is difficult in many parts of the world. Thus the question arises; does the international community have to plaster the meaning of human decency to ensure that citizens stand up for the true victims of society? 

A refugee is equivalent to that of a “displaced person” as they have no home, no safety, nor any support. They are in desperate need of refuge from the place they once called home. For so many, however, their homes are war zones and so the search for safety in another country is their top priority. Syrian refugees are the largest number of people in seek of shelter. Up to 13.4 million Syrian refugees were stranded in December 2019, comprising more than half of the country’s population.2 To date, many Syrians are displaced in refugee camps across Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq in descending order.3 The continuation of the crisis in Europe, the US, and the Middle East still occurs as many are in dire need of shelter. The immense struggle of seeking asylum places individuals in hostile living arrangements in asylum camps and while they provide a place of sanctuary, the conditions of these camps are volatile. 

 Sanitation measures of the tents are insubstantial as many of them house fatal diseases. The crowded accommodations shared between multiple families render privacy non-existent and therefore increases the risk of disease transmission  The additional lack of water adds to the difficulty in cleaning, clothing, and bedding, as well as unhygienic latrines.4 Food is already so scarce and many foodborne diseases, can be contracted by the little food available. Having just fled war, many suffer from wounds that are not managed effectively due to the shortage of healthcare workers and medical equipment. This results in life-long disabilities or the risk of an early demise. With the loss of their homes, family members, and friends, the mental health status of these refugees are severely affected. 

After COVID-19 hit, developing countries and communities of low socioeconomic status suffered the most. Means of protection such as masks, gloves, and even soap were unavailable. The rate of transmission escalated significantly amongst these poor populations consequently increasing their already burdened health problems. Along with the lack of sanitation, food, water, and medical supplies, there is a lack of education in prevention measures for COVID-19. Unlike our thriving technological lifestyle, these societies lack access to such vital data making it difficult for them to gain basic news and information. Their contemporary lifestyle along with the pandemic’s consequences make for a cruel combination. With the recent explosion in Lebanon on the 4th of August, circumstances are looking more and more dire since the country houses more than a million Syrian refugees and the unforgettable explosion has cost refugees another vigorous expedition to find a home.

Asylum seekers, escapees, runaways, outcasts, and refugees are the many titles used to describe these people. However, any one of our titles could be altered in a split second just like these mere refugees. It is our responsibility as humans to fulfill the laws of human rights, to support them, and to be at their aid during their endeavors of refuge. Please consider the following links to volunteer, donate, and contribute to their journeys. If these organisations fail to abide by the standards that you perceive as appropriate, then do give 10 minutes of your time to search up alternatives amongst the hundreds of charities accepting donations.


1. Human Rights. Published August 30, 2016. Accessed August 9, 2020.

2. Refugee Statistics. Accessed August 9, 2020.

3. Situation Syria Regional Refugee Response. Accessed August 9, 2020.

4. vminkov. Refugee Camp Priority: Health and Sanitation. Accessed August 10, 2020.

Hiba Khan
Hiba Khan

5th year medical student at Dubai Medical College, UAE

The state of refugees amidst COVID-19 in Afghanistan

The current COVID-19 pandemic has heavily burdened the health     care system in Afghanistan. As it was previously anticipated; Afghanistan has faced countless challenges in the era of the novel pandemic. These challenges posed an unprecedented level of burden on healthcare systems. 

Except for the external refugees that were constantly returning, there was the mobility of afghans within the country who were displaced because of the raging conflicts. Their displacement in major cities such as Kabul, the capital was an unfavorable thing, as it resulted in increased levels  of urbanization, mobility      and rapid transmission of the virus amongst the vulnerable citizens. Moreover, the floods of immigrants from Pakistan and Iran who were coming back to the country to settle  in Kabul was unsatisfying for the health care workers. There have been       reports of inhumane treatment  and disapprovals from the hospitals they were visiting in Pakistan and Iran. Their settlement in the country and the need for      testing burdened the health     care providers but was necessary  to assure they were      free of COVID-19.

From every angle to observe the situation of Afghanistan’s health care system holistically, fragility and poor infrastructure come into observation. The fact that the country has the least number of healthcare  providers (One healthcare provider per 10,000 people) is also another major dilemma when it comes to providing the health facilities to the refugees and other citizens.

With the aforementioned setbacks and problems, the current health system is colliding massively because there is less space for caring and delivering health facilities to those immigrants and resided citizens in the country. To overcome the crisis, Afghanistan needs vital support from other international stakeholders. 

Yasir Essar
Yasir Essar

Yasir Essar is a Global health enthusiast from Afghanistan. He studies at Kabul University of Medical Sciences. His journey through global health started when he incorporated research as one of his main aspects of professional career. He has three publications in the top journals. Aside from publications, he is interested in leadership which makes him a perfect suit in leading some of the research groups.

    Human Rights of Women in Nigeria: The COVID-19 Perspective

    Nigeria is a country situated in sub-saharan (West) Africa, bounded in the north by Niger republic, north-east by Chad, in the south by the Atlantic ocean and west by Benin republic. ¹With a population of over 200 million people, Nigeria is notably the most populated country in Africa. In 2010 when the country had an estimated population of over 159 million people, 53.2% was between 15-64, 2.7% was 65 years and older making a total of 57.9 percent as being aged 15-65+ and a little less than half of the total percentage were women.¹ Over the years, the issue of human rights of women in Nigeria has become an issue of concern with various campaigns by several civil society organizations demanding women empowerment and support as well as its contribution. Some of these rights include; the right to live, right to education, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, right to vote and be voted for, and more among others. Hence, the challenges facing human rights of women in Nigeria, how COVID-19 has affected these rights, and the way forward, are the areas this write-up intends to examine.

    In Nigeria, women play different important social roles based on religious, geographic and cultural factors. In addition to this, their roles are better defined by the ethnic differences.² has not been fully implemented.³ These rights are being affected by the religious, geographical, and cultural factors. For example, in Northern Nigeria which is predominantly an Islamic society, women are more secluded and have limited access to education than in Southern Nigeria. In recent years, there has been an even more intense outcry for the involvement of women in politics. The traditional Nigerian dictates that the primary role of women is the responsibility of home keeping and child rearing.³ Although, a lot of women have access to beneficial jobs through their education, in many instances, they are restricted by social expectations and boundaries.

    Hence, there are quite a number of challenges facing the human rights of women in Nigeria. The issue of child marriage has been one of the biggest challenges limiting human rights of women as they are made to face family responsibilities early in life which goes a long way to limit their access to education. These marriages most often lead to child bearing which gives them little to no opportunity for education. There is also the issue of maternal death especially during childbirth at a rather tender age and this indirectly violates their right to life.² 43% of the girls are being married before their 18th birthday and 17% before the age of 15. It is more prevalent in the North than South of Nigeria. Another challenge is the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), of which Nigeria accounts for the highest cases across the world. Its prevalence has however reduced significantly in the last 30 years.² Domestic violence is also a huge challenge in Nigeria and this can be attributed to the deep cultural belief of the social acceptability to hitting a woman as a form of discipline. This menace has shown no signs of reduction in the country.² A 2012 National Crime and Safety survey by the CLEEN Foundation reports that 31% of the sample respondents confessed to being victims of domestic violence. Examples of the most common forms of violence against women in Nigeria include; rape, beating, molestation, et cetera. 

    The first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Nigeria on February 28, 2020. Consequently, there was a surge in the number of confirmed cases and later in March, the Federal government declared a restriction of movement, religious and socio-economic activities in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun States (where the number of confirmed cases were higher). Other states followed suit with efforts at contact tracing, testing, isolation, and case management.⁴ However, studies have shown that the rate of the violation of the human rights of women in Nigeria increased during the lockdown. A good example was the increase in domestic violence against women.⁴ The number of reported cases (May, 2020) is shown in Fig. A below.

    Fig. A. Source: ( UN Women, 2020)

    It has also been observed that rape cases surged at an alarming rate after the lockdown was lifted. One of the notable cases was  of a 23 year old microbiology student studying in University of Benin, Nigeria, who was raped and murdered by unknown men at a church. Following that, numerous cases were also reported. Therefore, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a significant increase in the violation of human rights of women.

    Moreover, the case of upholding the human rights of Nigerian women especially during this COVID-19 pandemic is not a hopeless one. Several online campaigns in the past few months have successfully turned significant attention to this issue and there has been a push for federal laws ensuring stronger persecution of human right violations. This will go a long way in reducing the issue of the violation of human rights of women. The work of non-governmental organizations in advocating for more education for women in Nigeria should be supported by the government with the required provisions put in place. Oppression of women especially in politics should be discouraged and defaulters punished with an initiative  pushing for a more gender equal Nigeria.


    ¹ “Demographics of Nigeria” Retrieved 27 July 2020

    ² “Women in Nigeria” Retrieved 27 July, 2020

    ³ “Human Rights in Nigeria” Retrieved 27 July 2020

    ⁴ Uduak Akpan ( July 10, 2020).

    “COVID-19 in Nigeria: A gendered perspective”.

    Esther Bassey
    Esther Bassey

    Esther Bassey is a student of Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Uyo where she also serves as the Editor 2 of the Faculty. She is a public health enthusiast who is passionate about making a positive difference in the global society. A volunteer, a writer, she is currently a Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) fellow and the Hult prize foundation campus director of University of Uyo.

    The Coronavirus Disease: An Emergency Alert

    An article by Tirth Patel

    Check out his biography: “I live in Canton city in the state of Michigan, the United States. I am a college freshman majoring in Biology at Eastern Michigan University. By being a PreMed, I am with a strong desire to get into a medical school and accomplish my dream of becoming a neurosurgeon”.

    The human population is under attack.[1] [2] [3]  An extremely small virus, which is not visible with naked eyes, has been declared a murderer, responsible for killing thousands of people within a few days. In addition to human beings, many objects and places, to which the majority of people have access, are contaminated with the deadly virus. 

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 is the official name of the disease. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the WHO, explained that CO stands for corona, VI for virus and D for disease, while 19 is for the year that the outbreak was first identified-30 December 2019. While the disease is named COVID-19, the virus that causes it is named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was discovered in China in December 2019 and has spread around the world. As the virus is new, there has not been any cure or treatment made available yet. Also, Corona is a virus; therefore, it is hard to develop antibiotics against COVID-19.

    Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the symptoms of Influenza; therefore, it is arduous to distinguish between Influenza and COVID-19. This is one of the reasons people get distressed, thinking that they have COVID-19 every time they sneeze.

    The Coronavirus is not only threatening the human population but also affecting a country’s economic development. The present situation has become so grievous that a person who is sneezing is not considered less than a terrorist. From a scientific point of view, COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. From a political point of view, it is a crisis. And from an economical point of view, it is a scarcity of resources for public welfare.[4] [5]  Therefore, there is an urgent need to spread information and awareness regarding the scientific, political, and economic aspects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019.

    Medical science is based on facts; it takes years of rigorous hard work by scientists and researchers to develop antibiotics and vaccines against newly originated disease-causing pathogens. We have a list of diseases caused by viruses that are detrimental to human beings because humans are not hundred percent immune to such diseases.[6] [7]  This is one of the reasons for not having any definite cure or treatment for the diseases caused by viruses, including HIV-AIDS, Swine Flu, and MARSA. COVID-19 is a new member of the list of incurable diseases.

    Presently, due to the coronavirus, scientists and doctors have been compelled to review all medical science research to find a cure for the coronavirus disease. There are several questions for the scientists to answer: How the virus spread and originated? What should be done to kill the coronavirus? What are the targets of this virus?

    The virus SARS-CoV-2, publicly known as coronavirus, originated in bats called Rhinolophus sinicus. According to the WHO, differences between bats, the coronavirus, and SARS-CoV-2 suggest that humans were infected via an intermediate host. However, the intermediate host through which the virus jumped from bats into the human population is still unknown. According to the researchers of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, the   SARS-CoV-2 virus was imported from elsewhere. The virus then spread rapidly within the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China (Huifeng).

    Researchers use two broad strategies to combat viral infections: slowing down the damages caused by the virus and strengthening the body’s immune system (Umair).[8] [9]  Antiviral drugs are used for slowing down viruses. These drugs attack the viral components, including viral enzymes and surface proteins. For example, Remdesivir, under development by Gilead Sciences, is being studied as a way to treat COVID-19. It works by blocking the SARS-CoV-2 virus from copying its genetic material, RNA, the instructions the virus uses to replicate itself. Remdesivir resembles a component of RNA, but when it is taken up by the virus, it causes the copying process to stop. However, Remdesivir fools the virus but not human cells (Umair). Some human-blood derived products are obtained from people who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. These blood products are being analysed by researchers to find antiviral properties against the coronavirus. Scientists have also developed neutralizing monoclonal antibodies directed against SARS-CoV-2 virus, but these antibodies are under investigation in clinical trials.[10] [11] 

    Although SARS-CoV-2 virus infects everyone from any age group, SARS-CoV-2 is more severe in the elderly because old people have weaker immune systems as compared to young people. As Dr. Kate Tulenko, CEO of Corvus Health, explained, “Older people do not have a strong immune system, so they are more vulnerable to infectious disease than the teenagers. They are also more likely to have conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or kidney disease, which weaken their body’s ability to fight infectious disease” (Whiting).  This trend is illustrated in a chart showing the COVID-19 fatality rate by age (see Fig. 1).

    Fig. 1. COVID-19 fatality rate by age (as of February 11, 2020). Source: “Chinese Center of Disease Control and Prevention.”

    The trend in the graph illustrates a significant pattern that may lead to the conclusion that there is a direct correlation between mortality and the age of people who tested positive for COVID-19. Furthermore, it is logical to say that adults over the age of fifty are more vulnerable to the disease than people below fifty. However, [1] [2] the virus indeed is a risk of infection to everyone. It is specifically a high risk of mortality to the elderly and those with chronic health conditions. As Dr. Vineet Menachery, an immunologist at the University of Texas medical school, says, “You may be in your 40s, but if you have chronic health conditions, you’re going to be more susceptible, just like you see with flu” (Adler).

    Apart from scientific aspects of the coronavirus disease, the political effects of the coronavirus could be as substantial as the economic effects. Political leaders, by making decisions, are responsible for affecting various aspects of a country’s economy, including trade, employment, and education. However, some of the decisions made by political leaders of different countries have been supported, while most of the decisions have been criticized.

    Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea, Shinzō Abe, the prime minister of Japan, and Donald Trump, the president of the United States, have been sharply criticized for mishandling the virus and allowing cases to increase. Speculation is growing that Prime Minister Shinzō Abe may be forced to leave the office earlier than expected. If the coronavirus causes an economic slowdown or recession in the United States, then it could reduce the chances that President Trump will be reelected. President Moon Jae-in faced a petition signed by thousands of citizens to remove him from office (McCarthy).

    However, in some countries, wise decisions have been taken by the political leaders leading to the effective handling of the coronavirus spread. Although China was the first country to witness the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the decisions made by Xi Jinping, the president of China, were very effective, leading to the slowdown of the disease. The decisions of Xi Jinping were related to control measures, including quarantines, self-isolation, and movement restrictions.

    India [1] [2] has a relatively low number of cases compared with the rest of the world. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a major step to impose a nationwide lockdown on all 1.3 billion Indians for three weeks. As Narendra Modi said during his national address, “If we do not handle these 21 days well, then our country will go backward by 21 years” (Ward). As a result, the political leaders of countries like the United States, Italy, and the United Kingdom have made decisions regarding the same steps taken by the leaders of countries, including India, China, and Taiwan.

    In addition, politics has been a powerful medium to spread important messages to billions of people. Through the voices of political leaders, phrases such as “social distancing,” “self-quarantine,” and “flattening the curve” are showing up in the media. One of the most important missions of political parties around the world is to flatten the coronavirus curve to decelerate the spread of coronavirus disease. The concept of flattening the curve is represented in a chart distributed by The New York Times (see Fig. 2).

    Fig. 2. Positive spread of COVID-19 with and without protective measures. Source: “The New York Times” (27 March 2020).

    From the graph, it can be understood that flattening the curve refers to using protective practices to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections so hospitals have room, supplies, and doctors for all of the patients who need care. Consequently, fewer patients would arrive at the hospitals each day. There would be a better chance of the hospitals being able to keep up with adequate supplies, beds, and health care providers to care for them.

    Apart from the scientific and political aspects, the COVID-19 outbreak has generated both demand and supply shocks reverberating across the global economy. The United States, China, Italy, Germany, and other European nations are the countries, have had their economies badly affected by the coronavirus disease.Tourism and travel-related sectors, the trade sector, and the education sector are severely affected due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    Countries encouraging social distancing have made restrictions on both domestic and international travel. Consequently, domestic and international airline companies have been running at a great loss. The International Air Transport Association warns that COVID-19 could cost global air carriers between $63 billion and $113 billion in revenue in 2020 (Segal and Gerstel). Travel restrictions have been made by more than eighty countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend is illustrated in a chart showing a decline in international aviation due to the coronavirus outbreak (see Fig. 3).

    Fig. 3. Percentage decline in international aviation after the coronavirus outbreak (January 20 – February 17, 2020). Source: “AOG Aviation Worldwide via Bloomberg.”

    From the graph, it [1] [2] can be concluded that due to the decline in international aviation, tourism, along with international trade are severely affected by the coronavirus spread. Air travel has had a major contribution in spreading the virus around the world, which has led to the suspension of flights to and from China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, smaller economies in the vicinity of the larger neighbor have seen their international flight capacities slashed. Taiwan and Hong Kong are the hardest hit.

    Not only tourism, but the film market and recreational attractions have also been running at great losses due to restrictions on international and domestic aviation. The international film market could lose over $5 billion in lower box office sales. Entertainment giants like Disney expect a significant blow to revenues. Sporting Events and other services have also faced significant disruption due to the coronavirus epidemic (Segal and Gerstel). 

    Concerning impacts on trade, to decrease the influx of coronavirus into the United States, constraints have been placed on the imports of goods from other countries, especially from China. As a result, varying disruptions across the U.S. economy have occurred, including increased consumer demand of particular goods; reduced production due to lack of key inputs from abroad or quarantined employees; and a dramatic U.S. stock market drop. The U.S. trade deficit fell almost 7% in January largely because of a decline in the imports of oil, cars, and cell phones (Ross). China is the world’s largest manufacturing hub at the center of the global trading system. The U.S. exports and imports could both decline if the restrictions on trade are not lifted soon. 

    Furthermore, global supply chain disruptions began earlier this year as China imposed travel and other restrictions to slow down the spread of coronavirus. This in turn affected the American companies doing business based on the goods imported from China. Also, China’s business activities slowed down considerably as COVID-19 spreads. Due to trade restrictions, China faced a decline of 24.5 percent in retail sales, 20.5 percent in export values, 13.5 percent in industrial production, and 13 percent in services production (Ross). 

    However, the impacts of the coronavirus disease on education are not as substantial as the impacts on travel and trade. Educators and students around the world are feeling the extraordinary ripple effect of the novel coronavirus as schools shut down amid the public health emergency. There are school closures in more than 110 countries with millions of students around the world facing upheaval.  According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), school closures in over a dozen countries due to the COVID-19 outbreak have disrupted the education of at least 290.5 million students worldwide. Moreover, e-learning plans, including online lecturing and homework assignments, have been implemented.

    My findings indicate that COVID-19 has many aspects, which should be understood well. These aspects include medical science witnessing the failures to control the outbreak, political leaders taking decisions under pressure, and countries facing huge economic losses. Scientists do not yet have a clear understanding of the virus’s behavior and transmission rate, which is one of the reasons for not having medicines developed against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The coronavirus outbreak also has an impact on politics. Political leaders are handling the outbreak by taking decisions regarding control measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The most supported control measures, including social distancing, self-quarantine, and flattening the curve have been encouraged through the medium of politics and social media. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, countries have been coping with great economic losses in terms of travel, tourism, trade, and education. However, coherent, coordinated, and credible policy responses provide the best chance to handle economic fallout. Moreover, there is a need to have a careful look at the history of epidemics and shocks, recovery patterns, and future estimates to glean insights into the path ahead.

         References [1] [2] [3] 

    Buchholz, Katharina. “Aviation Industry Grounded by Coronavirus.” Economic Impact of COVID-19, 4 Mar. 2020, Chart.

    Huifeng, He. “Coronavirus did not originate in the Wuhan seafood market, Chinese scientists say.” South China Morning Post, 23 Feb. 2020, /coronavirus-did-not-originate-Wuhan-seafood-market-chines.

    Koplon, Savannah. “To stop spread of COVID-19, ‘flattening the curve’ is critical.” Health & Medicine, 17 Mar. 2020,

    Lovelace, Berkeley. “World Health Organization names the new coronavirus: COVID-19.” Health and Science, 11 Feb. 2020,

    McCarthy, Kelly. “The global impact of coronavirus on education.” ABC News, 6 Mar. 2020,

    McCarthy, Niall. “How the fatality rate of Coronavirus changes with age.” World Economic Forum, 3 Mar. 2020, Chart.

    Roberts, Siobhan. “Flattening the Coronavirus Curve.” The New York Times, 27 Mar. 2020, Chart.  

    Ross, Jenna. “COVID-19 Crash: How China’s Economy May Offer a Glimpse of the Future.” Visual Capitalist, 26 Mar. 2020,

    Segal, Stephanie and Dylan Gerstel. “The Global Economic Impacts of COVID-19.” Center of Strategic & International Studies, 10 Mar. 2020,

    Umair, Irfan. “Why the new coronavirus is so hard to cure.” Vox, 11 Mar. 2020, https://www.

    Whiting, Kate. “An expert explains: how to help older people through the COVID-19 pandemic.”World Economic Forum, 12 Mar. 2020, agenda/2020/03/ coronavirus-covid-19-elderly-older-people-health-risk/.

    Kudos to Quarantine?

    by Yusra Iqbal

    When the dark force took over the skies and enwrapped its wings around the globe, spreading its evil essence of fear into the air – killing and spreading devastation across countries, we saw ‘socializing’ come into the spotlight. 

    We realised that the only way to save maximum lives in the pandemic was to keep social distancing protocols and isolation of the vulnerable in place until the vaccine was ready- however long that took. There was no safe way to reopen schools in the pandemic. 

    Today, at the coffee table, I found myself wondering, debating over the equivocal – ‘Social life during the time of COVID-19’.

    The pandemic is much more than a health crisis; it is a human, economic, and social crisis. [1]

    There are moments of ‘normalcy’ that I am nostalgic for; the fun and random in-person conversations with my friends, grabbing tips from seniors- an intense confab at the hostel, sharing food- in fact, BONDING over food! 

    In my opinion, most of our ‘social lives’ have been considerably unaffected (to an extent) and well-compensated by technology (as I type it, I realise how much of a privilege it is to say that! #Alhamdulillah~ praise be to God). Physically distant, but socially? Very much connected. 

    Online volunteering, attending webinars, online games, online classes, more time to develop new skills, or work on older ones, and virtually meet up with people who share your interests! With more time at hand, it became about making sure it was utilized beneficially!

    Social distancing has led to a spike in online activity. It has benefitted various online platforms and while it helped us stay connected, it has also led to potentially rising anxiety and mental health issues. 

    The National Program for Happiness and Wellbeing (UAE), has seen a rise in ‘collective anxiety’ due to COVID-19. Mental Health has become a subject of intense discussion during this era. However, we are also seeing a rise in online support groups and sessions where people can come together, talk, discuss, and get help without mobility and geographic challenges! [2]

    Remember, Together #WeCanWeWill help each other succeed.


    1.“The Social Impact of COVID-19 | DISD.” United Nations, United Nations,

    2.“Everyone Included: Social Impact of COVID-19 | DISD.” United Nations, United Nations,