Special Collection: the health of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe

Guest post by Kevin Pottie, Associate Professor in Family Medicine and Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada

A new Cochrane Library Special Collection, developed in conjunction with Evidence Aid, brings together Cochrane Reviews addressing health conditions relevant to refugees and asylum seekers.

Migrant health crises require a range of planned and coordinated interventions, and, as this collection highlights, a foundation of relevant evidence. Systematic reviews are needed to inform the development of community programs, clinical and public health guidelines, and national and international polices. Equity methods are being used to identify disadvantaged migrant groups that may face health inequities in a humanitarian emergency, and systematic reviews can help to prevent unintended harms and consequences of interventions. The Campbell and Cochrane Equity Methods Group has established a migrant health subgroup aiming to address unfair and unjust health outcomes among migrant populations.

The current European migrant crisis has seen the arrival of a large numbers of asylum seekers and refugees, amid concern about their integration into societies and health systems. The International Organization for Migration predicts that global international migration (people seeking a new life in another country) will double from 215 million to more than 400 million by 2050. Without effective integration or resettlement, many fear long-term social and health problems.

A robust, high-quality evidence base can help marshal political will and strengthen policy-making capacity and service delivery. Systematic reviews may also help build provider capacity to ensure effective service provision, and they may help improve collaboration among nongovernmental organizations.

The field of migrant health research has grown rapidly over the last 15 years. Social science researchers have studied the impact of migration on a range of social outcomes, and psychiatrists and anthropologists have studied how trauma and differences in culture and values may impact mental health. Infectious disease specialists have identified the conditions that may begin or emerge in the migration process, such as tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, varicella, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

This Special Collection presents systematic reviews on health conditions relevant for migrating populations, most notably migrants who are affected by conflict, poverty, and forced migration. The reviews focus on conditions relating to the transit or the particular population involved, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, skin infections, sexual and physical violence, tuberculosis, and vaccine-preventable diseases.

Read the Special Collection (Also available in Spanish)

Monday, April 18, 2016