Document Type : Rapid Communication

Authors

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Heraklion, Heraklion, Greece

2 4th Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Unit, School of Medicine, Athens National and Kapodistrian University, Attikon University General Hospital,Athens, Greece

Abstract

Concerns about emerging and re-emerging diseases in migrants and refugees have been raised due to high influx in European Union/European economic area in the past couple of years. In spite of the common perception of an association between migration and importation of infectious diseases, the World Health Organization stated that there is no systematic association. In this communication, the authors pronounce that the most important health issue facing child migrants and refugees is increased vulnerability to infectious diseases, and not the importation of infectious diseases. This vulnerability is a result of conditions under the refugees move and live when they arrive at their host countries, such as poor living conditions, overcrowding, suboptimal hygiene, malnutrition, and limited access to vaccination and health services. A health-related issue that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage is termed health disparity. Health disparities negatively effect refugees, who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles in health. It is important for migrant and refugee children to benefit from the same level of protection as indigenous populations with regards to infectious diseases. Equitable access to vaccination is of prime importance and health professionals, should approach children and adolescents, who are refugees or migrants, not only with the aim of providing access to effective treatments, yet, they should also take into consideration cultural and social aspects and aim to build strategies for better living conditions, screening, and vaccination.

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