A lack of high-quality, comparable data across countries and over time regarding the health of refugees and migrants challenges good policy development, the WHO has said.
Over the past few years, countries and international organisations have made commitments to take action to promote refugee and migrant health. However, according to the WHO, critical gaps remain in data and health information systems regarding the health of these particularly at-risk populations. These gaps hamper the development and implementation of inclusive policies that are informed by sound evidence on their health status and needs, as well as their access to and utilisation of health services in countries of origin, transit, and destination.
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‘In July this year, WHO published the first World report on the health of refugees and migrants, providing a comprehensive overview of their health status, and highlighting good practices to safeguard their health,’ said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.
‘The report calls on governments and partners to take collective actions to promote and protect the health of refugees and migrants by addressing the root causes of disease, many of which lie outside the health domain; by reorienting health systems to include integrated and inclusive health services and programmes for refugees and migrants; by raising public awareness about the health of refugees and migrant health; and by promoting high quality research and information and building capacity to support evidence-informed policies and actions in health and migration.’
According to the WHO, migration and displacement are on the rise. From 1990 to 2020, the total number of international migrants increased from 153 million (2.9% of the global population) to 281 million (3.6% of the global population). In 2022, the number of forcibly displaced persons, within and across borders, has already surpassed 100 million.
‘As of March 2022, International Organization for Migration observed that, out of 180 countries surveyed, access to COVID-19 vaccines to migrants in irregular situations was reported in only 56%, whereas efforts to include migrants in regular situations in vaccination rollouts were reported in 93% of the countries,’ said Ugochi Daniels, Deputy Director-General of the International Organization for Migration.
‘Such evidence showed us that targeted efforts are needed to account for the needs of migrants in irregular situations, and to ensure that those with access on paper can receive the vaccines in practice.’