International Migrants Day: Working to achieve equitable, quality health care for all migrants in the European Region


Recent events in Africa and the Middle East have led to a dramatic increase in migration to the WHO European Region. The International Organization for Migration reports that nearly 380 000 people have arrived in Europe and over 4700 have been found dead or reported missing at sea in 2016 alone. Today, 75 million migrants are estimated to be living in the Region, accounting for nearly 8.4% of the total population.

The Region faces ongoing challenges related to migration, including those linked to migrants' health. WHO/Europe works closely with Member States to support efforts to strengthen the health sector's preparedness and public health capacity to respond to the needs of refugees and migrants. In partnership with Member States, WHO/Europe strives to ensure that all refugees and migrants to the Region have access to equitable, affordable and quality health services, and enjoy good health through the improvement of their living conditions.

In September 2016, all countries of the Region adopted the first Strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region. This document charts a course for implementing a coherent, regional public health response to migration. In keeping with the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, the Strategy and its action plan emphasize the need for a cross-national and cross-sectoral approach.

To mark International Migrants Day on 18 December, WHO/Europe offers first-hand insight into the reality of the frontlines of migration in the Region, along with information about key activities taking place to strengthen the regional response to the health aspects of migration.