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[2018] Missing: Where Are the Migrants in Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans?

Missing: Where Are the Migrants in Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans? [Open Access]

Kolitha Wickramage, Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric Friedman, Phusit Prakongsai, Rapeepong Suphanchaimat, Charles Hui, Patrick Duigan, Eliana Barragan, and David R. Harper

Health and Human Rights Journal June 2018 Vol 20 number 1, 251-258.

 

Background

Influenza pandemics are perennial global health security threats, with novel and seasonal influenza affecting a large proportion of the world’s population, causing enormous economic and social destruction. Novel viruses such as influenza A(H7N9) continue to emerge, posing zoonotic and potential pandemic threats.[1] Many countries have developed pandemic influenza preparedness plans (PIPPs) aimed at guiding actions and investments to respond to such outbreak events.[2]

Migrant and mobile population groups—such as migrant workers, cross-border frontier workers, refugees, asylum seekers, and other non-citizen categories residing within national boundaries—may be disproportionately affected in the event of health emergencies, with irregular/undocumented migrants experiencing even greater vulnerabilities. Because of a combination of political, sociocultural, economic, and legal barriers, many migrants have limited access to and awareness of health and welfare services, as well as their legal rights.[3] The conditions in which migrants travel, live, and work often carry exceptional risks to their physical and mental well-being. Even if certain migrant groups have access to health services, they tend to avoid them due to fear of deportation, xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes within society, and other linguistic, cultural, and economic barriers.[4] Evidence indicates that social stigmatization and anxieties generated by restrictive immigration policies hinder undocumented immigrants’ access to health rights and minimizes immigrants’ sense of entitlement to such rights.[5]

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