Despite the strong increase of migrants and refugees worldwide in recent years, insufficient attention has been paid to addressing their health needs. Policy-makers, health professionals, researchers and the media still need to tackle several critical challenges in order to ensure that they receive adapted care. An important step is to extend and update the international and national policies, and to ensure migrants’ and refugees’ access to essential health services regardless of their resident status. Aside from political considerations, we must also question our own representations and understanding. In order to be effective, we must indeed move beyond emotional images, but also better grasp the cultural differences that are relevant in migrants’ and refugees’ care.
All these issues were raised in two scientific conferences co-organized by CVV in 2017:
The symposium “Migrants’ Health: health and health care delivery for specific groups” was held at the World Health Summit Regional Meeting in Montreal on May 8, 2017. It was jointly organized by University of Geneva, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, World Health Summit, Montreal Clinical Research Institute, University of Montréal, Université Paris Descartes, CVV and Charité Universitätsmedizin.
Many different aspects were covered during the symposium: the changing landscape of migrants’ and refugees’ health; the changing perceptions and attitudes towards migrants and refugees; the growing role of environmental factors, including climate change, as a cause for migration; the changing health needs of migrants and refugees and the responses to these needs (health issues, health insurance, national and international policies, etc.).
The M8 Alliance Expert Meeting on Migrants’ and Refugees’ Health was hosted on June 23-24, 2017 by Sapienza University of Rome, in cooperation with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, University of Geneva, University of Montreal, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, CVV, Tehran University of Medical Sciences and the Italian Society of Migration Medicine.
The conference addressed the diverse approaches to policies, entitlements and services provided in Germany, Iran, Italy, Turkey, South Africa and Canada. The participants highlighted the challenges met in different areas including policy, service design and delivery, education and training, research and communication. They also underscored the challenges of highly neglected aspects such as mental health and the need for health professionals working with migrants and refugees to acquire cultural competences.
The publication of a report of this conference is in preparation. It will include an “agenda of solutions” based on the discussions that took place during this meeting and on the literature.
The CVV also organized two conferences on climate change, migration and health in 2016 and continues its work on these topics (see http://bit.ly/2wRB3v3 for details).
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