WHO calls for action to provide health care to migrants and refugees |

World Health Organization warning (WHO) is included in its first Refugee and Migrant Health Report released on Wednesday.

It calls for urgent action to ensure that people on the road have access to health services that meet their needs.

“Whether by choice or compulsion, to be on the move is to be human and is part of human life. Whatever the motives, circumstances, background or migratory status of a person, we must unequivocally reiterate that health is a human right for all, and that universal health care should include refugees and migrants,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in the introduction to the report.

difficult times

There are about a billion migrants in the world, or about one in eight people.

Disease, famine, climate change and war force people to leave their homes, and the conflict in Ukraine has contributed to an increase in the number of displaced people around the world. over 100 million for the first time in history.

In the same time COVID-19 The pandemic continues to disproportionately affect the health and livelihoods of migrants and refugees.

The report, based on an extensive review of data from around the world, shows that refugees and migrants are inherently as healthy as host communities.

Dirty, dangerous job

Their lower health outcomes are associated with exposure to various suboptimal determinants of health such as education, income and housing, which are exacerbated by language, cultural, legal and other barriers.

The report emphasizes that the experience of migration and displacement is a key factor in health and well-being, especially when combined with other factors.

A recent analysis of over 17 million participants from 16 countries across five WHO regions found that migrant workers less likely to use medical servicesas well as more likely to get a work injurycompared to non-migrants.

In addition, a significant proportion of the world’s 169 million migrant workers are employed in dirty, dangerous and hard jobs.

They are at greater risk of work-related accidents, injuries and health problems than non-migrants. The situation is also exacerbated by their often limited or limited access to and use of health services.


Lwin Lwin Kyi (left), a Burmese migrant medical volunteer during the COVID-19 response.

Quality data is critical

The report also notes that while data and health information on the health of refugees and migrants is plentiful, it is also fragmented and not comparable across countries and over time.

The WHO has stated that while groups of migrants can sometimes be identified in the global datasets used to monitor the SDGs, health data are often missing from migration statistics.

In addition, migrant status variables are often missing from health statistics, making it difficult to measure and track the progress of refugees and migrants against health-related goals.

“It is critical that we do more about the health of refugees and migrants, but if we are to change the status quo we need urgent investment to improve the quality, relevance and completeness of health data on refugees and migrants,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab , Deputy Director-General of WHO.

“We need robust data collection and monitoring systems that truly reflect the diversity of the world’s population and the experiences that refugees and migrants around the world face, and that can guide better policies and actions.”

On the front line

While there are policies and mechanisms in place to address the health needs of refugees and migrants, WHO has stated that disparities persist due to a lack of meaningful and effective implementation.

Health does not begin or end at the border of a countryR. Thus, migratory status should not be a discriminatory factor, but a policy driving force on which to build and strengthen health, social and financial protection. We must reorient existing health systems towards integrated and inclusive health services for refugees and migrants, in line with the principles of primary health care and universal health coverage,” said Dr Santino Severoni, Director of the WHO Health and Migration Programme.

The report highlights how refugees and migrants can drive innovation that drives economic and social transformation.

It also draws attention to their outstanding contribution to advanced response during a pandemicnoting that in some Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, up to half of doctors and nurses were born abroad.

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