Germany and Europe-Facing challenges of most recent phenomenon of migration of refugees and issues regarding their health

Who is migrant?

As per definition of International Organization for Migration (IOM) migrant is a person who is moving or has moved across international border or permanently moved within State away from his usual place of residence, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and notwithstanding causes of movement or length of stay. Statistics told that among, approximately 150 million international migrant workers, there are 44.3% are women, out of which only half are concentrated in North America and North, South and Western Europe. A careful study conducted by International Labour Organization (ILO), shows that total sum of financial remittance sent by these international migrants to their origin countries approximately amounted to USD 581 billion only in 2015.

More than one billion people are migrants in the world which makes at least one in seven people. As per report of IOM this figure even increased upto 244. Average 20 people are strained to flee their homes in every minute globally. As per report of UNHCR published in 2017, at the end of 2016 65.5 million persons were displaced forcibly due to persecution, generalized violence, or human rights violations.

This migration also includes irregular migration which is difficult to measure due to lack of data sources, absence of universally agreed definition and its clandestine nature. In 2010 there were at least 50 million irregular migrants worldwide.

World view about migration.

In a recent Gallup survey conducted in order to evaluate that how world views migration? Interestingly global public opinion regarding migration was more favorable than otherwise perceived. Except Europe, people from every region generally believe that immigration levels to their countries must be increased. 52% of European are against migration and asked to decrease migration level.

European approach against practicality?

Population projections point out that for European economy migrants are needed to uphold. As per study, excess of deaths over births in Europe is predictable to be 63 million, between 2015 and 2050, and total number of international migrants 31 million, threatening overall reduction of Europe’s population with 32 million, with serious consequences for economy. Because workforce will not be able to meet the demand in many sectors like health, engineering, finance and I.T etc. Healthcare sector in E.U is already failing to attract other nationals to respond their high demand. Italian care system is fully geared up to get migrant healthcarer.

Immigration Trend in European Union.

Due to changes occurred in geopolitical power and economics between Europe’s constituent nation states, there is a long history of immigration flow in Europe. But in last decade immigration into Europe as compare to rest of world is a most recent phenomenon. The most relevant events in 2004 and 2007 were Eastern enlargements of European Union which caused East-West immigration flows alongwith financial crisis of 2008, which on one hand reduced immigration into Europe but on the other hand increased the movements within Europe.

Majority of immigration were from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and this was the reason that in September, 2015 Hungary built a fence on its border with Serbia and in October, 2015 on its border with Croatia. Although FYROM (Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia) partially closed its border with Greece in November, 2015, but completely closed in March, 2016.

According to Eurostate data, in terms of migration flows, during 2015, total number of 4.7 million people migrated to one of the EU-28 members states. And among these, there were estimated 2.4 million citizens were from non-member states. As a whole in January, 2016 citizen of non-member states in EU were about 20.7 million.

Immigrants and their health upshots.

Immigration process has three stages i.e. phase in the country of origin before immigrant’s departure, phase of transit and phase of arrival and stay in country of destination. In some unfortunate cases, there is fourth stage i.e. return to the place of origin. In all these steps, health of migrant is shape by their occurrences and circumstances faced by him/her. Many of pre-conditions under which people migrate are determined by socio-economic and geopolitical environment of country of origin, such as prevalence of certain diseases, accessibility and quality of health services, human-rights violations etc.

Even during journey, immigrant’s physically as well as mentally health badly affected, especially of those who are travelling without any legal document as they have to undergo tiresome and dangerous journey, which only healthy and young immigrant people can survive.  But overall, discrimination in accessing health services, lack of social capital increase, overcrowded living conditions and social disruption caused by migration can expose immigrants to serious diseases or at least poor health outcomes.  Further, gender, age and socio-economic status are basic aspects of health outcomes of immigrants.

Evaluation of immigrants’ health in European Union have pointed out considerable inadequacy regarding their living conditions in reception centers, data collection, sharing health information between facilities and provision of culturally sensitive and appropriate health services. Not only this but policies in many member states are inadequate to tackle immigrant health, whether they are migrants in an irregular situation or asylum seekers.

Proposed solution for health issues of immigrants.

In order to avoid terrible health situation of immigrants, states may also consider to:

  1. Ensure dignified and humane conditions in line with standards maintained by Council of Europe, international and EU standards, regarding social and health assistance.
  2. Support systems for adequate health and social support be created by managing cultural mediation, staff training and psychosocial assistance throughout reception process as well as in health centers.
  3. EU member states must be supported by reducing gap of knowledge between categories of health professionals and other law enforcement officers regarding health related border policies.
  4. Initiatives must be launched to raise awareness and promote achievements, in order to improve health promotion and preventive care for ethnic minorities and immigrants as well as access and suitability of their health services.
  5. Screening for communicable diseases and health assessment must be ensured in all EU countries.
  6. Data collection of health information must be standardized as different health centers within member state and other states store data and keep records differently.
  7. Most of the time it has been reported in different incidents, that big obstacle for immigrants’ access to health services is serious shortage of provision of information to both health workers and immigrant, shortage of professional and trained translators or cultural mediators, less involvement by stakeholders in policy making on immigrants’ health etc.

At present, when member states are committed to universally adopted slogan i.e. “leave no one behind”, there is delicate tension between these obstacles and demand for responsible health system governance, which can be controlled by maintaining good health care system for migrants.

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