Experts stress illegal immigrants' need for health services
Deutsche Presse Agentur, March 3, 2010
Madrid (DPA) — Migrant health is becoming a major challenge to Western health care systems, experts said Wednesday, stressing the need to give migrants access to health care independently of their legal status. About 100 experts gathered in Madrid for a three-day Global Consultation on Migrant Health organized by the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration and the Spanish European Union presidency.
'Migrant health is a growing problem in European health policies,' Spanish senior health official Jose Martinez Olmos said on inaugurating the meeting.
Unequal access to health care could lead to the deterioration of public health in migrants' countries of destination, warned Daniel Lopez-Acuna from the WHO's Health Action in Crises programme.
It was necessary to define 'as soon as possible' policies and mechanisms ensuring access by both legal and illegal immigrants to health care, Lopez-Acuna told journalists.
The public had a false idea of migrants representing a particular health risk, Lopez-Acuna said, explaining that any traveller could carry diseases from one country to another.
The WHO expert recommended a 'global' approach, including prevention, vaccinations and treatment of infectious diseases.
There are 214 million international and 740 million internal migrants worldwide, according to WHO figures.