Italy hosts expert consultation on public health aspects of migration in Europe


Forty experts, representatives of government and nongovernmental organizations, met in Rome, Italy on 28 and 29 May to discuss emerging challenges facing Europe from migration. Although formerly a continent of emigration, Europe now finds itself attracting refugees and migrants from all over the world, which creates significant health challenges.

Since the World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA61.17 in 2008, WHO has been committed to making migration a healthier process for those who migrate and those who receive them. Against this backdrop and within the framework of a new project on public health aspects of migration in Europe, the meeting in Rome was held to examine this emerging phenomenon and identify ways to deal with it.

Assessment tool to help countries prepare

Participants were asked to review a new assessment tool that WHO/Europe is developing to help countries prepare for massive influxes of migrants and protect health. WHO/Europe planned to use input from discussions at the meeting to complete the tool and then make it available to all Member States.

WHO recognizes that preparing for mass influxes of migrants is a difficult task, which requires cooperation between the various stakeholders. In 2013 WHO/Europe plans to set up training programmes and activities to strengthen capacities all over the WHO European Region, with special focus on the countries of southern Europe, where the most significant migration is expected.

The participants acknowledged the continuous commitment of the Government of Italy in taking up this theme and the dedication of Member States in providing support to the project.

The participants comprised representatives of 8 countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Turkey), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (ICMHD), the Italian National Institute of Health (ISS), the Italian Red Cross, the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (NIHMP), Médicins sans frontières (MSF) and WHO/Europe.