Action plan for better data on migration and health


The state of migrant and refugee health data in European health systems is a concern, a new study shows. The analysis by an international coalition of universities, UN organizations, government representatives, and European institutions published in the journal The Lancet Regional Health Europe reveals that coverage of migrant and refugee data remains inconsistent and of suboptimal quality.

According to the study this issue is not due to a lack of knowledge or technological resources but rather arises from multiple political and structural factors at local, national, and European levels that hinder the effective implementation of existing guidelines. The coalition, led by Bielefeld University in Germany and Uppsala University in Sweden, proposes a roadmap for policy makers and European health systems to improve the situation.

They propose four critical approaches for European health systems:

Systematic data collection: Implement strategies that ensure migrant and refugee health data is collected, analyzed, and disseminated in a systematic manner, filling the existing gaps and inform-ing evidence-based policy decisions.

Privacy safeguards and data integration: Capitalise on methods that protect privacy while facili-tating the linkage of data from various sources to generate comprehensive data at relatively low cost. This requires ensuring that the highest standards of data protection are upheld.

Inclusive survey methods: Adopt methods that consider the diverse needs and backgrounds of migrant and refugee populations when conducting surveys.

Empowerment through engagement: Engage migrants and refugees in decision-making about their health and health data. Their voices should shape the policies and practices that directly im-pact their lives.

From ad-hoc to systematic approaches

Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil, Lecturer at the
Department of Women's and Children's Health

The WHO European Region hosts approximately 36 per cent of the global international migrant population. Health of migrants and refugees is a question that cannot be ignored, according to Soorej Puthoopparambil, lecturer at the Department of Women´s and Children´s Health at Uppsala University:

‘Countries need to move from ad-hoc to systematic approaches to pro-actively include migrants and refugees in health information systems, thereby promoting equity in health.’

The report proposes a change management approach to narrow the gap between knowledge and action, building a bridge towards healthcare policies and practices that are genuinely inclusive of migrants and refugees.

‘In doing so, societies will not only promote the well-being of migrants and refugees, but will also better serve public health needs of their societies and promote equity in European health systems,’ says Kayvan Bozorgmehr, Professor at Bielefeld University.

News article from Uppsala University


Last modified: 2023-10-23