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Healing the gap: Building inclusive public health and migrant integration systems in Europe

Integration and migrant health are closely connected. Health problems can hinder a person's ability to complete integration courses, find or remain in employment, or participate fully in their new community. Ensuring that health disparities are addressed and do not become long-term barriers to integration, therefore, would promote greater social inclusion as well as improving both individual and public health.

This new report from the Migration Policy Institute examines the responses of European governments to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways in which the specific needs of migrants have been considered within these responses. Specifically, it focuses on health disparities and the barriers that migrants face in accessing health services, and the opportunities that exist to tackle them.

Key findings of the report include the following:

  • There is increased awareness of the migrant integration–migrant health nexus and of root causes of health disparities. COVID-19 infection and mortality rates have clearly highlighted how disparities in employment, socio-economic status, education and housing can cause health disparities. If stakeholders can use this increased awareness to reduce the root causes of health problems, the pandemic could be turned from an accelerator of inequalities into a springboard to a more inclusive society.
  • It is essential to take an intersectional approach to the mainstreaming of migrant health. The public health crisis has underscored the diversity of health vulnerabilities and needs within and across migrant groups. Mainstreaming migrant health would move away from a target group approach and toward a needs-focused one that avoids treating migrants as a uniform group. Still, mainstreaming cannot become an excuse to ignore health challenges that are more common among migrants than the general population.
  • There is a need to transition from emergency response to structural policy priorities. Effective long-term policy requires a comprehensive, dedicated approach to migrant health at European and national levels. This approach should promote coordination, harmonisation and mutual learning across European Member States, as well as structural evaluation of what works.

Find the full report attached below or read it online here.

Jasmijn Slootjes
Posted by:
Olivia Long (Migration Policy Group)