From the influence of Western culture and society, migrants and refugees in Europe are at high risk of acquiring non-communicable and communicable diseases than do host nations, reveals a report from the World Health Organization.
According to the first report of WHO Europe on refugees and migrants in the west, the migrants are at significant risk of contracting illness in the course of migration and their health poses a further threat after arriving in host nations due to poor living conditions, unhealthy diet and obesity epidemic. As a result of poor living conditions, the risk of non-contagious diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart diseases increases in the immigrants.
‘According to WHO Europe, there is only a very low risk of migrants transmitting infectious diseases to the host populations. Instead, as a result of the impact of western lifestyle and poor living conditions, migrants and refugees are highly susceptible to contract the illness.’
The report also claims that migrants neither transmit diseases nor place a disproportionate burden on the healthcare systems and calls for the host nations to provide healthcare services to them considering the facts and not on politics or prejudice.
The report criticizes the UK for imposing charges on migrants and refugees for their healthcare. Dr. Santino Severoni, the coordinator of public health and migration for WHO Europe, said: "This report is a wonderful opportunity to diffuse false myths, misperceptions, and negative narrative. Health is very politicized and used as a tool of fear, but this report has very solid facts and data that is coming from our member states."
In December, as many as 70,000 doctors protested against the charges hospitals impose on overseas visitors for NHS care and against the denial of antenatal care in pregnant women and treatments for serious illnesses in children.
Some other facts from the report:
• Refugees and migrants are at lower risk of all forms of cancer but are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage.
• Depression and anxiety are more common among refugees and migrants than host populations.
• Unaccompanied minors are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and experience higher rates of depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Male migrants experience significantly more work-related injuries than non-migrant workers.
The report suggests the best way to protect the health of those in host nations and newcomers is to provide good-quality, affordable healthcare to the refugees and migrants irrespective of their legal status and making it linguistically and culturally accessible.