Better health for migrants isn’t simply a moral imperative. It is an evidence informed, economically wise choice that will improve health for all. It is a choice that must be made in defiance of populism, prejudice, and political expediency.
In partnership with the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), we are excited to launch a new series on migration and health.
The Commission presents evidence based approaches to inform public discourse and policy to address migration as a global health priority, and proposes recommendations for maximising the health of all people on the move. The Commission is an independent group of academics, policymakers, and health system experts with experience across the world to review current knowledge and producing new empirical work and policy recommendations on the role of migration on health. The report takes an inter-disciplinary approach to the appraisal of information and data and the presentation of recommendations including sociological, political, legal, epidemiological, humanitarian and anthropological perspectives.
The specific challenges we have encountered in our fieldwork in migration contexts highlight the need for better evidence to improve health-system responses to migration, mobility, and health. We have identified five core areas in which action is needed to support the development of a global research agenda on migration, mobility, and health.
Migration impacts the South African public healthcare system but not in the ways
often assumed, and sectors responsible for improving responses have a poor
understanding of migration. The need for better data is emphasised, existing policy
responses are outlined, and strategic opportunities for intervention are suggested.
Recommendations are made for migration-aware health systems that embed
population movement as central to the design of health interventions, policy, and
research. Such responses offer strategic opportunities to address health inequity, both
nationally and regionally, with resulting health and developmental benefits for all.
Testing refugees in an overseas setting through a systematic HA identified patients with a range of infectious diseases. Our results reflect similar patterns found in other programmes and indicate that the yields for infectious diseases vary by region and nationality. This information may help in designing a more targeted approach to testing, which has already started in the UK programme. Further work is needed to refine how best to identify infections in refugees, taking these factors into account.
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. 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.