The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) faces significant demographic challenges, serving as home to the largest mobile population in the world, with growing numbers of refugees and internally displaced people. USAID’s Middle East Bureau funds activities that introduce innovative health ideas and approaches for small-scale interventions and target regional advisory support for health issues in multi-country contexts. Our work also facilitates critical information and skills sharing and learning opportunities to integrate concepts that are evidence-based and regionally tested.  

In recent decades, MENA governments and donor investments in health contributed to both the management and prevention of communicable diseases and improved practices to reduce maternal, infant, and child mortality. Overall development in MENA, however, is overshadowed by crises and regional security concerns. There is evidence of backsliding in health outcomes, and the strain on health systems and populations is, in turn, adding fuel to citizen dissatisfaction and insecurity. Displaced populations have survived violence, but have lost family, friends, communities, and homes.  

Conflict environments, changes in long-established roles and uncertainty about the future have contributed to more mental health problems, such as depression, and a rise in gender-based violence. Refugee flows have placed an enormous burden on national health systems, threatening not only the health of their populations, but also the overall security and stability of the region.

Examples of Our Work:

  • The ASSIST project works to strengthen the capacity of health systems to respond to emerging public health issues, including increased refugee flows and non-communicable diseases.  The project develops host-country capacity to apply evidence-based modern quality improvement methods to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, patient/client centeredness, safety, accessibility, and equity of care.
  • USAID is supporting the development of a youth-focused healthy lifestyles resource for youth programming in MENA, with attention to sexual and reproductive health, healthy future planning, mental health, and gender equity.
  • USAID partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau and the Arab Institute for Training and Research to strengthen the capacity of statistical offices in the region.  The project focuses on capacity building around data collection and use, population structure and demographic trends, and the implications for development planning and policy making.