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.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is developing evidence-based guidance for voluntary screening, treatment and vaccine prevention of infectious diseases for newly arriving migrants to the European Union/European Economic Area. The objective of this systematic review protocol is to guide the identification, appraisal and synthesis of the best available evidence on prevention and assessment of the following priority infectious diseases: tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis (polio), Haemophilus influenza disease, strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis.
Targeting migrants for catch-up vaccination is cost effective for presumptive vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, and polio, and there was no evidence of benefit of carrying out pre-vaccination serological testing. The cost-effectiveness is sensitive to the seroprevalence and adherence to vaccinations of the migrant. We conclude that scarce but direct EU/EEA data suggest social mobilization, vaccine programs, and education campaigns are promising strategies for migrants, but more research is needed. Research should also study cost effectiveness of strategies. Vaccination of migrants should continue to be a public heath priority in EU/EEA.
Despite the ever-growing prominence of human mobility across the globe, and Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no one behind, research output on migrants’ health is not consistent with the global migration pattern. A stronger evidence base is needed to enable authorities to make evidence-informed decisions on migration health policy and practice.