Social determinants

Migrants' health

The European agenda on migration sets out the EU response to the migration crisis. In 2015 and 2016, the EU allocated more than €10 billion to address the crisis.

Proposals for reforms to EU law

In June 2016, the Commission adopted an action plan on better integrating non-EU migrants that includes several health proposals and a reform of the Blue Card Directive that enables the EU to attract and retain highly skilled non-EU nationals, including healthcare professionals. The proposal also allows refugees to apply for a Blue Card.

In July 2016, the Commission approved proposals to reform the common European asylum system, including 3 measures affecting migrant healthcare:

  • The Asylum Procedures Regulation
  • TheQualifications Regulation
  • TheReception Conditions Directive


The Commission’s priority is to provide support to countries that host high numbers of migrants. Most migrants are healthy when they arrive in the EU, but they can be affected by conditions and factors before or during travel. They may be suffering from physical exhaustion, extreme distress, dehydration or cold, for example, combined with other issues such as inadequate living conditions,unhealthy lifestyles or chronic diseases that can impact on their physical and mental health.

  • What is the EU doing to help?The EU provides financial support to improve healthcare for vulnerable migrants, to integrate them into national healthcare systems and train healthcare professionals.
  • It supports EU countries facing particularly high levels of migration in responding to health-related challenges and promotes the sharing of best practices on healthcare models.
  • It coordinates activities through the Health Security Committee 
    • Collating requests for vaccines and other health supplies from EU countries most affected, so that other EU countries can help
    • Improving monitoring of communicable diseases via the Early Warning and Response System
    • Bringing together national contact points for health with those in charge of civil protection and asylum, migration and integration funds.
  • Works with the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control, the World Health Organization Europe and the International Organisation for Migration to better identify and address the needs of EU countries and refugees.
  • Develops training programmes for healthcare professionals. These will help healthcare professionals learn about diseases that they are not familiar with and provide information on cultural perspectives and specific needs among the people arriving.
  • Produced a Personal Health Record and an accompanying Handbook for health professionals to help healthcare professionals build medical histories of incoming migrants and refugees and identify their immediate needs.

Developing projects

The EU has been working to address inequalities in healthcare, including migrant health issues, since 2003. It has carried out projects to measure differences in health and access to healthcare and to help integrate migrants into national healthcare systems.