Intersectoral collaboration between the Italian Ministries of Health and Interior on migration and health

WHO/Sara Barragán

WHO/Europe through the Public Health Aspects of Migration in Europe (PHAME) project has collaborated with the Italian Ministry of Health to provide technical assistance to the Italian Ministry of Interior for the improvement of the health service delivery and management at the identification and expulsion centres for migrants known as CIE (centro di identificazione ed espulsione). Other key stakeholders from the government and the third sector have also participated in this one-year process including Doctors Without Borders, the Italian Red Cross and the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (NIHMP).

Improving health service delivery at the Italian centres for identification and expulsion of immigrants

As a result of this intersectoral collaboration, a new regulation for these centres has been approved and published. The overall goal of this collaboration was to ensure the homogenization and definition of standards in the delivery of health services for migrants in all centres present in the country; consequently guaranteeing migrants’ health rights both individually and as a community during their stay in these centres, independently of their nationality, ethnicity, sex or religion.

While the competency over the health services delivered in these centres belongs to the Italian Ministry of Interior and therefore is not part of the National Health System (NHS), the Ministry of Health along with the other stakeholders involved provided technical support for their revision. This process led to the establishment of standard operating procedures regarding the prevention and provision of health services in the centres. The lack of existence of these standards could lead to the use of different clinic criteria among centres to decide when a migrant must stay or leave the centre. An inadequate assessment could therefore risk the health of the migrant in particular and, in the case of communicable diseases, also that of the community living and working in the centre.

In this scenario, the concrete aspects agreed to be reviewed and standardized include:

  1. conditions for the declaration of fitness for the detention of foreign nationals to be deported;
  2. the minimum requirements for the health assessment of migrants at the moment of arrival to the centres;
  3. the minimum health equipment required in the centres;
  4. evaluation and possible amendments to the minimum package of services provided by the bodies contracted by the Ministry of Interior to manage centres for immigrants.