WHO/Europe is working to strengthen the capacity of countries’ public health services to deal with large influxes of migrants. The Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME) project conducts assessment missions in the Member States that are receiving or may receive large undocumented populations, to coordinate the health response to migration by identifying best practices and potential gaps in the public health sector before establishing contingency plans.
The PHAME project aims to support the work of policy-makers, health planners, local health professionals and others who are responsible for providing quality health care to migrants. Its final objective is to develop expertise and capacity, as well as to identify and fill potential gaps in health-service delivery, including those for the prevention, diagnosis, monitoring and management of disease.
Migration affects the whole European Region, so a coordinated effort is needed. Despite their differences, countries can share best practices and develop policy dialogue to build expertise and capacity on migration health.
Following the loss of hundreds of lives in the sinking of a ship carrying migrants off Sicily, Italy was the first country to be assessed. WHO staff worked closely with the Councillor of Health of the Sicily Region to assist the Italian health authorities in ensuring equitable access to health services for migrants.
Since September 2013, WHO has worked with the Ministry of Health in Portugal to analyse and report on the health sector’s preparedness to deal with large influxes of migrants.
In addition, the WHO team worked with the Ministry of Health in Malta, seeking ways to increase the health sector’s response capacity. On average, 2000 migrants annually have reached Malta by sea in recent years.