LONDON: The World Health Organization has urged health systems to consider the needs of refugees and migrants to protect and promote their health.
He also called on health workers to be more aware of refugees and migrants within the framework of the principle of health for all and for the benefit of host communities.
According to WHO’s first report on the health of refugees and migrants, millions of refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations have worse health outcomes than their host communities, especially where conditions life and work are poor.
He said refugees and migrants were not inherently less healthy than host populations. It was the impact of various suboptimal determinants of health, such as education, income, housing and access to services, compounded by language, cultural, legal and other barriers that were responsible for the poor health outcomes.
He highlighted data and information gaps regarding the health of refugees and migrants.
There were about 1 billion migrants in the world, or about one in eight people. The experience of migration is a key determinant of health and well-being, and refugees and migrants remain among the most vulnerable and neglected members of many societies, said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom.
“This report is the first to offer a comprehensive review of the health of refugees and migrants; it calls for urgent and collective action to ensure that they have access to health services adapted to their needs. It also illustrates the urgent need to address the root causes of ill health and radically reorient health systems to respond to an increasingly changing world.
WHO Deputy Director-General Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab said more needed to be done for the health of refugees and migrants.
“But if we are to change the status quo, we need urgent investments to improve the quality, relevance and completeness of health data on refugees and migrants,” she added. “We need strong data collection and monitoring systems that truly represent the diversity of the global population and the lived experience of refugees and migrants around the world and that can guide more effective policies and interventions.