[Open Access] Targeting COVID-19 interventions towards migrants in humanitarian settings

COMMENT | Lancet Infectious Diseases | VOLUME 20, ISSUE 6, P645-646, JUNE 01, 202

Targeting COVID-19 interventions towards migrants in humanitarian settings

Published:April 21, 2020DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30292-9

“Millions of refugees and migrants reside in countries devastated by protracted conflicts with weakened health systems, and in countries where they are forced to live in substandard conditions in camps and compounds, and high-density slum settings.1 Although many such settings have yet to feel the full impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the pandemic is now having an unprecedented impact on mobility, in terms of border and migration management, as well as on the health, social, and economic situation of migrant populations globally. An urgent coordinated effort is now needed to align these populations with national and global COVID-19 responses.”

Read more here.

Risk behind bars: Coronavirus and immigration detention

Risk behind bars: Coronavirus and immigration detention


“….an outbreak in a facility threatens the outside community as well. An outbreak in a detention facility endangers all who come in contact with migrants, from immigration enforcement staff to workers at detention facilities, asylum officers, lawyers, and judges. All those people come in contact with the detainees and go home to their families at night.”

Read the full article here

[open access] Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in complex humanitarian crises

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in complex humanitarian crises

International Journal for Equity in Health volume 19, Article number: 41 (2020) Cite this article

Over 168 million people across 50 countries are estimated to need humanitarian assistance in 2020 [1]. Response to epidemics in complex humanitarian crises—such as the recent cholera epidemic in Yemen and the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo—is a global health challenge of increasing scale [2]. The thousands of Yemeni and Congolese who have died in these years-long epidemics demonstrate the difficulty of combatting even well-known pathogens in humanitarian settings. The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) may represent a still greater threat to those in complex humanitarian crises, which lack the infrastructure, support, and health systems to mount a comprehensive response. Poor governance, public distrust, and political violence may further undermine interventions in these settings.

Sequential screening for depression in humanitarian emergencies: a validation study of the Patient Health Questionnaire among Syrian refugees

This study utilized data from a cross-sectional survey done with Syrian refugees in a camp in Greece. The goal was to determine if a sequential screening process would be able to accurately assess the number of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) in the population. While the initial data was collected through the eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8), this validation study simulated the use of the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) as well. The PHQ-2 was used to first screen the data of patients who scored less than 2 on the PHQ-2, who were then ruled out for MDD symptoms. The other patients’ answers were then used in the PHQ-8. The findings were analyzed to see if the two-part process would be able to accurately and efficiently determine who would be most at risk for symptoms of MDD. 

The conclusion of this study was that “The benefits of the sequential screening approach for the classification of MDD presented here are twofold: preserving classification accuracy relative to the PHQ-2 alone while reducing the response burden of the PHQ-8. This sequential screening approach is a pragmatic strategy for streamlining MDD surveillance in humanitarian emergencies.” 

Migration Health Evidence Portal for COVID-19

This evidence portal is a repository of research publications and high-yield evidence briefs on COVID-19 and its intersection with migration health.

The scientific literature and knowledge base on the epidemic rapidly expand daily. Tremendous efforts are being made by the global community of clinicians, researchers and journal editors to advance scientific evidence to guide policy and decision making at the field level. However, there is a need to build evidence platforms to share and distill key findings emergent from this growing body of scientific literature that is relevant to migration, health, and human mobility to ultimately assist evidence-informed decision making from a migration lens.

The portal contains:

Research Publications on COVID-19 and Migration Health

This section reflects the output of the publication mapping exercise involving the quantitative assessment of a set of published scientific articles (i.e., bibliometric analysis) on COVID-19 with reference to migrants, migration, and human mobility. Bibliometric analysis provides an important snapshot of a specific field of interest/domain. The baseline information from bibliometric analysis helps identify research gaps that future studies can investigate. The bibliometric analysis conducted by IOM and MHADRI on international migration and health is one example.

Key messages

  • As of 30 March 2020, the publications related to COVID-19 totaled 21,779 (no restriction set in terms of language and subject area). From this, a total of 43 publications were relevant to migration health and human mobility.
  • Most of the studies investigated the cases and disease transmission dynamics of COVID-19 in the context of national and international population movement, with most studies undertaken in China. The distribution of research to date indicates the role of travel and migration in the importation of the virus.
  • Research on the epidemiology of the disease among migrant groups such as migrant workers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and asylum seekers is lacking. Evidence with attribution to migrant groups within clinical datasets are seldom reported.
  • Despite multiple studies from high-income countries (HICs) using mathematical modelling to predict spread, and model social distancing, border closures and impacts on health care system capacities, there were only a few studies that model outbreak in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) contexts. None hitherto have focused on camps and camp-like situations.
  • There is a real need to strengthen the current knowledge base on the epidemiology and social determinants of COVID-19 and examine health-related outcomes in specific migrant groups, especially migrant workers.
  • Investigations on COVID-19 and migration health should not be limited to the role of movement/mobility in the dynamic importation of cases in a pandemic; a more inclusive research strategy that integrates the relevant interests of migrant populations should be considered.
  • Advocating for the right to health of migrants and migrant inclusion within the global, regional, national and sub-national pandemic preparedness and response plans is of critical importance.
  • The most productive authors and institutions come from Hong Kong, whose geographical proximity to and socio-economic ties with China were likely contributing factors in their early contributions to the field.

Network map of common keywords

The network map below shows an overview of the common keywords that appear in the title, abstract, and keywords of the relevant publications retrieved on the topic of COVID-19 and migration health. Network maps of keywords reveal key topics in a research area or domain as well as the relationship (co-occurrence) between common keywords. It is a relative indicator of important research areas that are drawing attention in the field. 

  • The large circles in the figure represent the most frequently occurring author keywords in the research publications (N=43) such as ‘pneumonia’ (n=26), ‘epidemic’ (n=22), ‘travel’ (n=19), ‘quarantine’ (n=18), ‘outbreak’ (n=15), and ‘disease transmission’ (n=14). 
  • The lines connecting the circles represent the co-occurring keywords. The distance between two keywords approximates how strongly the words are related based on the number of their co-occurrences (i.e., the more publications in which two keywords co-occur, the stronger the relation between them). Thus, the strongly related words appear closer together on the map. 
  • Each distinct color represents a cluster of keywords that are strongly related to each other. In the figure, ‘pneumonia’, ‘travel’, and ‘disease transmission’ are strongly related to ‘virology’, ‘animals’, ‘nonhuman’, ‘zoonosis’, ‘fever’, ‘genetics’, and ‘pandemic’ (red cluster). The keyword ‘epidemic’ is strongly related to ‘outbreak’, ‘quarantine’, ‘mass screening’, ‘air travel’, ‘travel medicine’, ‘global health’, ‘infection control’, and ‘risk assessment’ – these keywords are shown to be closer together forming the green cluster. 
  • These topics on COVID-19 and migration health can be classified into the following thematic areas: disease epidemiology (i.e., travel, disease transmission, virology, animals, nonhuman, zoonosis, genetics, pandemic); clinical management (i.e., pneumonia and fever); and public health intervention (i.e., quarantine, control, etc.).

Note: See the full paper for the Methodology and Limitations of this analysis.

Resisting Borders: A Virtual Conference on Refugee & Migrant Health, Mobility, Human Rights & Responsibilities (June 2020)

Originally posted online: https://resistingbordersconference.wpcomstaging.com/call-for-abstracts/



Caring on the Landscape of Displacement:

Mapping Moral Experience in Health Services for Migrants

June 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th 2020, 7 am – 9 am Eastern Standard Time

First convened in 2017, Resisting Borders: Refugee and Migrant Health and Responsibilities is a no travel, online, no fee conference aimed at discussing ethical issues surrounding responsibilities for the health of refugees, asylum-seekers, and other migrant and displaced people.

We are now inviting contributions for a second conference to be held in June 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th 2020, 7 am – 9 am Eastern Standard Time, as a satellite to the World Congress of Bioethics.

As before, we will convene for a few hours during each of the four days. The theme of the 2020 Resisting Borders conference will be Caring on the Landscape of Displacement: Mapping Moral Experience in Health Services for Migrants.

Submissions on any topic concerning migrant health and responsibility are welcome, but we are especially interested in contributions – be they academic research presentations, or narratives – that reflect the moral experience of professionals (e.g. scholars, practitioners, advocates, or policy-makers) whose work concerns the care of migrants at any point of their journey and settlement, as well as the ethical issues that arise in providing this care. We are also interested in experiences of those engaging with the care of migrants indirectly through the development of policy, journalism, or artistic creations. Presentations might, for example, address ethical issues regarding constraints in the provision of health or other services, the identification of remains, involvement in medical exams linked to the processing of asylum claims, provision of care in detention facilities or other morally compromised/compromising settings, problems of dual or confused loyalties.

The organizers will assemble selected essays and artistic submissions for publication, in addition to an online and traveling art and storytelling exhibition.

Submission before March 31rst , 2020.

Please send abstracts of no longer than 500 words via our abstract submission page.

Please include the following information:

  • Name and affiliation of presenter
  • Title of presentation
  • Type of presentation: experiential; research; artistic
  • Email address

Call for Papers: Psychosocial Perspectives on Migration and Health

Call for Papers: Psychosocial Perspectives on Migration and Health

Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck, University of London.

1st May 2020

Seminar convenors: Anna Shadrina (Birkbeck) and Ayelen Hamity (IoE-UCL)

Seminar sponsorship: Birkbeck/Wellcome Trust ISSF

This session seeks to provide a psychosocial reflection into migration and health. Migration is traditionally associated with the loss of cultural capital, social networks and professional identities which have to be re-established in a new place, causing feelings of disconnectedness and loneliness, and physical distress. Against the tendency to individualise and depoliticise suffering and distress associated with migration; we explore migration as a collective phenomenon and a constitutive force of our contemporary world.

We set out by interrogating the very foundations from which the category ‘migration’ emerges by challenging the notion of place as static. Places do not exist outside of the histories of human movement which differentiate them. It is by thinking through the transhistorical quality of human movement and its relation to place that we may approach the contemporary paradox of an increasingly interconnected world being met with oftentimes violent attempts at strengthening borders.

From this perspective, the migrant is not conceptualised as an anomaly or an alien, but it is rather place which may be alienating to those who move, those who stay, as well as those who have never thought of leaving. This conceptual provocation does not minimise the psychological and physical distress that may be associated with human movement, but it does de-pathologize ‘the migrant’ and forces us to think politically and empathetically about the distinctive psychosocial experiences associated with migration.

The seminar will address migration from a range of perspectives as a desirable and undesirable experience, and how it intersects with gender, race, class, age and health. The session seeks to think about migration and health as both the experiences that disconnect from others and can serve as a source for solidarity and social change. We welcome (but not exclusively) submissions that explore:

• Migration and mental health as an issue of social inequality;

•  Notions about ‘the responsible patient’ and how/whether they change as people move;

• ‘Moral panics’ and ‘new’ diseases associated with human movement;

•  Medical tourism.

Please send 250-word abstracts to the convenors Anna Shadrina (a.shadryna@bbk.ac.uk) and Ayelen Hamity (ayelenhamity@gmail.com) by Friday 27th Match 2020. 

4th MHADRI newsletter

The 4th MHADRI newsletter is now online!

Over the past year, MHADRI has had the opportunity to collaborate with a range of partners and look forward to what 2020 will bring!

Key highlights from 2019 include:

– Early career researcher workshops in Nepal and South Africa
– Bibliometric training workshop in Manila
– Launch of the IOM-MHADRI-BMJ Series on Migration and Health
– Contribution to the World Migration Report of a chapter on Migration and Health
– Workshop on migration, gender and health in Southern Africa

We look forward to working with you all over the coming year!

Best wishes from
the MHADRI Steering Committee

Harnessing Partnerships to Better Map Research Evidence on Migration Health

 Originally posted on: https://weblog.iom.int/harnessing-partnerships-better-map-research-evidence-migration-health


What do we know about the landscape of migration health research? Who is doing the research? What are they researching on? Which migrant categories are included? What are the health related themes? How can we better understand the research and evidence gap in migration and health? What collaborations are taking place, and can we map who funds this research?

These are some of the questions that a group of scholars, policy makers and International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff investigated at a workshop on bibliometrics analysis of migration health research held in November 2019 at IOM’s Global Administrative Centre in Manila, Philippines.

The workshop was the first of this kind, harnessing research collaboration not only within IOM but also with the government agencies, clinicians and research institutions, mainly from South and Southeast Asia.

“Bibliometric analysis is a useful research method as it lets you look at the patterns of research activities such as publications. In any global health field, it is extremely helpful to know where the work is being done, who is doing it, where the collaborations are happening, and what topics are being explored,” said Dr. Margaret Sampson, an international expert on bibliometric analysis who facilitated the workshop.

Jointly organized by IOM, together with the Migration Health and Development Research Initiative (MHADRI) and the Migration & Health South Asia Network, the workshop served as a platform to develop research capacity, with particular focus on researchers in the Global South, in undertaking bibliometric analysis to identify the gaps in research output on migration health.   

BackgroundIn 2018, IOM and MHADRI undertook the first-ever bibliometric analysis of global migration health research in peer-reviewed literature focusing on international migrants. The study revealed major gaps in research productivity especially in the Global South as most literature is from high-income migrant destination countries, despite the significant migration flows within the countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. For example, according to the study, only 6.2 per cent of the total published research output on the health of migrants focused on migrant workers, despite 60 per cent of international migrants represented within this category. Supporting the networking, capacity development of researchers, especially those from developing nations, to undertake migration health-related research was highlighted. The importance of undertaking more in-depth mapping of migration health research output for both international and internal migrants in low to middle income countries were also highlighted in the research by IOM and MHADRI.
Geographical distribution of retrieved documents in global migration health (2000–2016). Areas with no color in the map represent regions with no data available or no research output in the field of global migration health. To read the full paper: Bibliometric analysis of global migration health research in peer-reviewed literature (2000–2016)

The Manila Consensus Group forged at the workshop aimed at further refining and testing the search strategies for bibliometrics research and provide analytical rigour to apply these methods for migration health research.

The group committed to developing methodological guidelines in undertaking bibliometric analysis as well as to work on providing a standardized approach to undertaking bibliometric analysis relevant to research on international and internal migration dynamics.

The group committed to publishing these outputs in open source platforms supported by IOM so as to make this publicly available so that researchers, policy makers and UN agencies can utilize to undertake tailored analytics.

“It boils down to how you frame your question, the right key words, and the right way to search – maybe we are making it too wide or too tight – maybe we are not getting the right information. So, the tools and strategies presented were really helpful,” said one of the workshop participants, Dr. Roomi Aziz, Technical Lead Health Data and Communication, Pathways to Impact in Pakistan

The Manila Consensus group will delve into questions focusing on the research productivity relating to migration and health in Philippines, internal migration and health related research in South Asia as well as the research productivity relating to health assessments of migrants and refugees at pre- and post-migration phases and health outcomes in areas ranging from Infectious disease, communicable disease and occupational health.

“The workshop provided an excellent opportunity to build research capacity among Global South scholars, to enable them to go back and take deep dives to understand the research productivity in the field of migration health in their local areas and use that as evidence to move the field forward,” said Associate Professor Charles Hui, Chairperson of MHADRI network and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario, Ottawa.

In addition to harnessing the synergies created through this initiative, IOM seeks to work with member states, partner organizations and research networks to replicate such mapping and collaboration in other regions.


2019     The BMJ Migration health series
2018     Sweileh WM, Wickramage K, Pottie K, Hui C, Roberts B, Sawalha AF, and Zyoud SH 
             Bibliometric analysis of global migration health research in peer-reviewed literature (2000–2016). BMC Public Health, 2018, 18:777
2018     The UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health: the health of a world on the move

Global mapping of actors, agencies and networks providing training and capacity building programmes in migration and health

In partnership with IOM and the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at Wits University, MHADRI is undertaking a global mapping of actors, agencies and networks engaged in delivering training and capacity building/developing programmes in the field of migration and health. We are interested in initiatives being undertaken by all actors, including within civil society organisations, government departments, international organisations and academic institutions.

We invite anyone involved in developing or implementing any training or capacity building initiative in the field of migration and health to participate in a short online survey.

We are using the information collected to develop an open source database of available training and capacity building initiatives in the field of migration and health.

For further information, please contact Dr Rebecca Walker.