Migration public health challenges at the European borders

The European Border Agency, Frontex, organized the 22nd International Border Police Conference (IBPC) in Warsaw, Poland, on 22-23 October 2014. The main objective of this event was to look at the challenges related to border management, highlighting key elements of risk analysis as well as the importance of research and technology in this field. WHO/Europe staff from the project Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe participated at the conference, addressing the audience on the need of a public health approach to migration at the European borders.

Health risk assessments are key public health instruments designed to assist decision-making professionals in a rapid and defensible way during acute public health events. This systematic process covers the range from the event detection and risk assessment to the communication with key stakeholders and the public. Good practices can reduce or prevent disease in affected populations and reduce negative social and economic consequences in countries.

Recent events in North Africa and the Middle East have triggered a dramatic increase in migration, which highlights the need to identify best practices and engage in a cross-national political dialogue on migration. Through the Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME) project, WHO/Europe is working closely with Member States to strengthen the health sector’s preparedness and the public health capacity to manage migration. In the field of health risk assessment, WHO/Europe is working closely with the Ministries of Health of Mediterranean countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy and Malta conducting technical missions where the WHO toolkit for assessing health system capacity to manage large Influxes of migrants is being piloted.