REach aims to bridge the gap in health literacy and health care access

Refugees Act and Communicate Health (REach) Project is designed to aid refugees and local youth living in urban settings via digital technologies.

April 04, 2022

REACH is a regional initiative of Columbia University, which aims to bridge the gap in health literacy and health care access among refugee and local youth living in urban settings via digital health technologies. Supported by the International Cooperation and Development Fund of Taiwan (TaiwanICDF), Blue Chip Foundation, and Columbia University, the REACH Project in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan is implemented with the collaboration of Center for Sustainable Development of Columbia University, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul and Amman, Istanbul University, American University of Beirut, German Jordanian University, Bir İZ Association, Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG), Youth Approaches to Health Association (SGYD) and Digital Opportunity Trust-Lebanon. With a strong adult-youth partnership, the project includes stakeholder meetings, mixed methods studies with urban youth, qualitative interviews with health service providers and health policymakers, in addition to communication and dissemination activities such as organization of exhibitions, panels, and production of policy briefs and scientific publications. REACH has been working with refugee and local youth, software developers, academia, health professionals, and NGOs to develop a trilingual mHealth application to promote young people’s and vulnerable populations` health via digital technologies. REACH ultimately aims to increase health literacy and improve health care access among young people, through working with stakeholders to disseminate the app more broadly in the region, assess its effectiveness, and contribute to the limited evidence base on using health technologies for youth health promotion in forced migration settings.

​On February 28, a community-based dissemination event was held at the Taiwan-Reyhanlı Center for World Citizens as part of the Refugees Act and Communicate for Health (REACH) project. The REACH Project aims to increase health literacy and health care access for youth in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan via digital technologies. With this mission, the project team has developed the REACH4Health App, a trilingual app (English, Turkish, and Arabic), which maps healthcare services and provides health information. The event aimed to introduce the app to the refugee youth and women as well as the non-governmental organizations in Hatay and get their support to disseminate the app across the region.  

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The meeting introduced the REACH4Health App, and discussed the future of the App and the role of youth in this regard, as part of the REfugees Act and Communicate for Health (REACH) project. 

Representatives from the youth organizations in Turkey working on refugee and youth health shared their ideas on how to further develop the app both content-wise and technical-wise, and how to disseminate it across their networks.  

Panel: REACH Project and the REACH4Health App

Moderator: Prof. Selma Karabey, Department of Public Health, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine at Istanbul University

  • Welcome Remarks, Seden Gürlek, Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul 
  • Introduction of the REACH Project and Quantitative Research, Dr. Özge Karadağ, Columbia University 
  • REACH Project and Qualitative Research, İnanç Sümbüloğlu, Bir İz Derneği  
  • The Role of Youth in the REACH Project, Damla Ceyhan, Department of Public Health, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine at  Istanbul University
  • Introduction of the REACH4Health App, Dr. Özge Karadağ, Columbia University 
  • Q&A

Discussion: Next Steps for the REACH4Health App and the Role of Youth  

Prof. Nezih Orhon, Faculty of Communication, Anadolu University,

Dr. Özge Karadağ, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University 

On Wednesday, November 10, CGC | Istanbul and the Center for Sustainable Development held a hybrid event with Istanbul University Public Health Professor Selma Karabey titled ‘Responding to the Needs of Refugees and Migrants during the Pandemic: Turkey’s Experience’. The event began with opening remarks from Dr. Yanis Ben Amor, Executive Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. After an introduction of CSD, he introduced Professor Karabey and the significance of the discussion at hand, especially in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. Professor Karabey then began her presentation on addressing the needs of refugees and migrants in Turkey during the pandemic. 

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​​On October 7, the “Co-Designing mHealth Technologies with Youth: The REACH4Health App'' hybrid panel was held as part of the Refugees Act and Communicate for Health (REACH) project. This event celebrated the launch of the REACH4Health App, which was created to address health literacy issues within refugee, migrant, and local youth communities in Turkey. The event itself was divided into two panels. The first, moderated by Professor Selma Karabey, included panelists Dr. Özge Karadag, İnanç Sümbüloğlu, and Yamama Shahid, who discussed the research findings of REACH Turkey. In the second panel, moderator Assistant Professor Yanis Ben Amor was joined by panelists Dr. Özge Karadag, Damla Ceyhan, Emin Ayar, Yasmina Peker, and Canan Demir, who introduced the REACH4Health App itself and its features. 

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Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul organized a panel ''Decreasing Health Inequities Among Urban Youth: The Role of mHealth Technologies'' as a part of the Marmara Urban Forum (MARUF) on October 2, 2021.

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As part of the project titled "Health Promotion via Digital Technologies Among Young Refugees in Turkey" funded by the President's Global Innovation Fund (PGIF), the online panel and exhibition were organized on October 29, 2020. The project is an initiative of the Sustainable Development Center at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in collaboration with the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia Global Centers İstanbul, Department of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine at İstanbul University, and Bir-İz Association.  

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The two-day workshop on qualitative methods in migration and health research was held online on September 30 and October 1. This workshop was organized as part of the project that aims to promote the use of digital health technologies in humanitarian settings, funded by the President’s Global Innovation Fund at Columbia University. The project is an initiative of the Sustainable Development Center at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in collaboration with the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia Global Centers Istanbul, Department of Public Health of the Faculty of Medicine at İstanbul University, and Bir-İz Association. 

During the workshop, local and global experts trained postgraduate public health students and early-career public health researchers in Turkey to increase their research capacity on qualitative and mixed methods research with migrants and refugees.  

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On September 10th, the Istanbul Center, in collaboration with the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) at the Earth Institute, Istanbul University, and Birİz Association organizes a stakeholder workshop in Istanbul to discuss current problems and solutions regarding health literacy and health care access issues among refugees, with a special focus on more vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as young girls, sexual minorities, refugees living with a physical or mental disability. 

The Istanbul Center, in collaboration with Istanbul University, organized a public panel to discuss current problems and solutions regarding health literacy and health care access issues among refugees, with a special focus on more vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as young girls, sexual minorities, refugees living with a physical or mental disability.