20-Jul-2022 00:05:49
With the movement of population on the rise, it is important that countries get prepared to respond to the urgent needs that the health sector might confront, a WHO expert warned the day the UN agency launched its first world report on the health of refugees and migrants. WHO
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1. Various shots, WHO Sudan National Health Coordinator talking to South Sudanese refugees in the Nifasha open area settlement


2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“The report covers all the evidence produced in the recent time up to 2021. And the report has been built analyzing 82,000 sources of evidence.”


3. Various shots, refugees from Ukraine walking with suitcases in Lubycza Królewska


4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“It is important to collect data on the health of refugees and migrants because this was not done before, or at least was not done in a systematic manner. The attitude of the health sector used to be to pay attention to the issues related to refugees and migrants movement only with a concern of a possible side effect represented by the health dimension. So, the health issue was never considered as a founding element in order to manage population management.”


5. Various shots, WHO EURO Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Expert speaking to a young Ukrainian refugee in Medyka’s school gym turned into a refugee reception centre


6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“The phenomenon of movement of population, migrants or displaced population, unfortunately, is on the rise. The factors are well known, and we are expecting this to be a phenomenon which will accompany us or even grow in the coming years. Just imagine the possible potentiality of putting on the move people due to climate changes. It is important that countries are aware, it is important that countries get prepared in order to respond to the urgent needs, but also are able to respond to medium and long term needs that health sector might confront.”
7. Med shot, Dr Santino Severoni, Director of WHO Health and Migration Programme, reading the World Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“A meta-analysis of 13 studies conducted in Europe showed that pregnant women delivering child if migrants might be at double risk of mortality and morbidity because of their condition of migrants, mostly for the poor, preventive and assistance of the antenatal stage, and also for often unattended delivery for these women.”
9. Med shot, Dr Santino Severoni reading the World Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“What came out pretty importantly is the risk for chronic diseases, what we call non-communicable diseases. This is mostly due to the change of lifestyle and exposures to risk factors, mental health factors due to the condition of separation and social isolation, which this population often is confronting with, communicable diseases living in a poor deprivation context. Sometimes a very long journey might be a risk for exposure to communicable disease for this population.”
11. Various shots, Dr Santino Severoni reading the World Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“Countries are tending, I would say too often still, to deal with this issue alone as a country alone, trying to put in place national solutions. Again, the evidence, the stories, the experiences we collected with the World Report on the health of refugees and migrants prove to us that inter-country inter-regional collaboration is paramount in order to have a success in managing population movement.”
13. Various shots, Dr Santino Severoni reading the World Report on the Health of Refugees and Migrants
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“Jordan was the first country offering vaccines to refugees. So, this became an example imitated by many other countries. And considering the size of the refugee population in this country, it's really something remarkable. Or countries like Thailand, Colombia, where confronting with a large number of migrants and refugees, they understood that the best way to go is to ensure access in order to reduce burden for the health system at a later stage. So, provision of health insurance, which usually is a contribution between employers, employee and government, ensuring these people full access to services, preventive and curative.”
15. Various shots, Cutaways of Dr Santino Severoni during interview
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Santino Severoni, Director of Health and Migration Programme, WHO:
“Data are essential to support efficient policy making, to support effective designing of health care services. Unfortunately, data are scarce or better, they are not compatible, fragmented, difficult to be utilized in order to highlight a trend or better understanding a situation. So, investment into producing better data, disaggregated data is a paramount for the future.”
Around the world, millions of refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations, such as low-skilled migrant workers, face poorer health outcomes than their host communities, especially where living and working conditions are sub-standard, according to the first WHO World report on the health of refugees and migrants. This has dire consequences for the probability that the world will not achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals for these populations.

“Today there are some one billion migrants globally, about one in eight people. The experience of migration is a key determinant of health and wellbeing, and refugees and migrants remain among the most vulnerable and neglected members of many societies,” said Dr Tedros. “This report is the first to offer a global review of refugee and migrant health; it calls for urgent and collective action to ensure they can access health care services that are sensitive to their needs. It also illustrates the pressing need to address the root causes of ill health and to radically reorient health systems to respond to a world increasingly in motion.”

Based on an extensive review of literature from around the world, the report demonstrates that refugees and migrants are not inherently less healthy than host populations. It is, rather, the impact of the various suboptimal health determinants, such as education, income, housing, access to services, compounded by linguistic, cultural, legal and other barriers and the interaction of these during the life course, that are behind poor health outcomes.

The report reiterates that the experience of migration and displacement is a key factor in a person’s health and wellbeing, especially when combined with other determinants. For example, a recent meta-analysis of more than 17 million participants from 16 countries across five WHO regions found that, compared with non-migrant workers, migrant workers were less likely to use health services and more likely to have an occupational injury. Evidence also showed that a significant number of the 169 million migrant workers globally are engaged in dirty, dangerous, and demanding jobs and are at greater risk of occupational accidents, injuries, and work-related health problems than their non-migrant counterparts, conditions exacerbated by their often limited or restricted access to and use of health services.

The Report demonstrated critical gaps in data and health information systems regarding the health of refugees and migrants – while data and evidence are plentiful, they are fragmented and not comparable across countries and over time. Although these mobile populations are sometimes identifiable in global datasets used for SDG monitoring, health data are often missing from migration statistics and migratory status variables are often missing from health statistics. This makes it difficult to determine and track progress for refugees and migrants towards the health-related SDGs.

“It is imperative that we do more on refugees and migrants’ health but if we want to change the status quo, we need urgent investments to improve the quality, relevance and completeness of health data on refugees and migrants. We need sound data collection and monitoring systems that truly represent the diversity of the world population and the experience that refugees and migrants face the world over and that can guide more effective policies and interventions,” said Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s Deputy Director-General.

While lack of comparable data on the health of refugees and migrants across countries and over time often impedes good policy development towards health equity, policies and frameworks do exist that address and respond to the health needs of refugees and migrants.

However, disparities in health outcomes remain and the report shows that they are mainly due to a lack of meaningful and effective implementation of policies.

“Health does not begin or end at a country’s border. Migratory status should therefore not be a discriminatory factor but a policy driver on which to build and strengthen healthcare and social and financial protection. We must reorient existing health systems into integrated and inclusive health services for refugees and migrants, in line with the principles of primary health care and universal health coverage,” said Dr Santino Severoni, Director of WHO’s Health and Migration Programme.

Refugees and migrants can introduce innovative ideas that drive economic and social transformation. The Report highlights the extraordinary contributions of refugee and migrant healthcare workers to the COVID-19 frontline response. One of the most notable was the contributions of migrants in several countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which were particularly significant when in some countries as many as half of doctors or nurses are foreign born.

Implementing inclusive health systems that conform to the principle of right to health for all and universal health coverage would permit individuals in need of health services to be identified and supported early, before many problems become acute. Health systems are only as strong as their weakest link. The inclusion of refugees and migrants is a worthwhile investment for the development and wellbeing of societies around the world.
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