Editing Office - Geneva
Migrants and refugees are likely to have good general health, but they can be at risk of falling sick in transition or while staying in receiving countries due to poor living conditions or adjustments in their lifestyle. This is the main conclusion of the first “Report on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region”, released by the WHO Regional Office for Europe today. “Today, political and social systems are struggling to rise to the challenge of responding to displacement and migration in a humane and positive way. This report is the first of its kind, and gives us a snapshot of the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region, at a time when the migration phenomenon is expanding across the world,” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. The report summarizes the latest available evidence on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region – from a review of more than 13 000 documents – and the progress countries have made to promote their health. It was developed in partnership with the Italian National Institute for Health, Migration
Vulnerability to noncommunicable and communicable diseases
Refugees and migrants appear to be less affected than their host populations by many noncommunicable diseases on arrival; however, if they are in conditions of poverty, the duration of their stay in host countries increases their risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke or cancer. As migrants and refugees are likely to change their lifestyle to engage in less physical activity and consume less healthy food, they are also more prone to risk factors for chronic diseases. The displacement processes itself can make refugees and migrants more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Yet the report underlines that, for instance, the proportion of refugees and migrants among a host country’s tuberculosis (TB) cases varies broadly depending on the TB prevalence in the host population; and that a significant proportion of migrants and refugees who are HIV positive acquired the infection after they arrived in Europe. Despite the widespread assumption to the contrary, there is only a very low risk of refugees and migrants transmitting communicable diseases to their host population. “The new report provides insight into what must be done to meet the health needs of both migrants and refugees and the host population. As migrants and refugees become more vulnerable than the host population to the risk of developing both noncommunicable and communicable diseases, it is necessary that they receive timely access to quality health services, as everyone else. This is the best way to save lives and cut treatment costs, as well as protect the health of the resident citizens,” stresses Dr Jakab.
More Information: http://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/sections/press-releases/2019/migrants-and-refugees-at-higher-risk-of-developing-ill-health-than-host-populations-reveals-first-ever-who-report-on-the-health-of-displaced-people-in-europe