Increased rates of migration to and within the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) in recent years has made the development of migration policy, including health policy, a priority for the region. ECDC is supporting this by issuing guidance to EU/EEA member states, in order to facilitate effective screening and vaccination for priority infectious diseases among newly arrived migrant populations.
The ECDC report Public health guidance on screening and vaccination for infectious diseases in newly arrived migrants within the EU/EEA, provides EU/EEA member states with evidence-based scientific advice for a number of key infectious diseases.
The report suggests that it is likely to be both effective and cost-effective to screen child, adolescent and adult migrants for active and latent tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis C, hepatitis B, strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis. It also suggests that there is a clear benefit to enrolling migrants in vaccination programmes and ensuring catch-up vaccination where needed. This is, however, often conditional on the burden of disease in migrants’ countries of origin.
“Public health programmes have an important role in improving the health and social determinants of health for newly arrived migrants to the EU/EEA”
says Teymur Noori, one of ECDC’s scientific experts.
“Priority needs to be given to promoting uptake of screening and vaccination in high-risk migrant populations. In particular, to improving uptake of TB, HIV and hepatitis testing and ensuring linkage to care and treatment. Better understanding of migrant perceptions about infectious diseases, screening, testing and vaccination is critical, as well as improving the acceptance of, and access to, healthcare services.”
Migrants do not generally pose a health threat to the host population. However, some subgroups of migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases and may have worse health outcomes than the host population. In a number of EU/EEA Member States, subgroups of migrant populations are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C.
The guidance has been developed using a series of systematic evidence reviews, as well as drawing on the opinions of an ad hoc scientific panel through a consultation and assessment process.
Notes: A migrant is defined as any individual who lives in a country temporarily or permanently away from his or her usual place of residence for at least a year.