Migration Health National Conference: Towards a Migration Health Framework for the 21st Century

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Link: http://atwork.settlement.org/downloads/Migration_Health_Framework_Final_Report.pdf
Org: Association of Local Public Health Agencies
Date: 2003

On March 25 and 26, 2003, Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) held a conference on Migration Health in Ottawa, under the auspices of, and with funding from, Health Canada. This national conference, which focused on four themes (communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, access to health services and other issues), provided a forum to discuss the current state of research on migration health in Canada and develop some consensus around research priorities.

Due to growing globalization and technological developments, migrant health has become a quickly changing, complex issue, which encompasses everything between short-term trips to permanent resettlement. Some studies have found that this increase in population mobility significantly affects the health of communities. Other studies suggest that immigrants are healthier than the endemic population due to rigorous entry health requirements for them.

At the beginning of relocation, a migrant's health reflects the health environment at the point of origin. But the nature of the migratory journey may also affect the migrant's health. Evidence indicates that post-arrival, migrants access health services significantly less than the endemic residents, and over time, a migrant's health starts to reflect that of the endemic population.

All four sessions concluded that more research needs to be done and that existing models need to be overhauled. Focus should be broadened to include refugees, illegal immigrants, travellers and short-term migrants. Information on both communicable and non-communicable diseases, social determinants and emerging infectious diseases needs to be included.

The current epidemiological model dealing with communicable diseases needs to be re-evaluated and revised accordingly. To improve research in this field better quantitative information is essential. Recommendations included studying different types of migrants, the sustainability of the health service infrastructure and access to services.

Regarding non-communicable diseases, relevant areas for future were identified as establishing research priorities, building momentum towards a program of research and developing a forward-thinking, proactive agenda. To improve the theoretical understanding of the relationship between migration and health, it is vital to expand data collection, establish long-term programs and co-operation between key players.

Access to health services was identified as a key area for concern. Immigrants face a variety of barriers to health care services: the three-month waiting period; the limitations of the Interim Federal Health Plan; lack of awareness of available health services; regionalization; culture; and, language. Other areas/issues that were identified for future research were the effects of regionalization, human rights, discrimination, and barriers to the workforce on migrant health.

In sum, it was highly recommended that more research be conducted in all of these areas, expand existing data collection, facilitate access to information and build a strong network among key players and stakeholders.

Language: English

Format: This report is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format [2.25 MB, 72 pages].