Healing the Gap: Building Inclusive Public-Health and Migrant Integration Systems in Europe
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed European health-care systems to their limits, as millions of Europeans have fallen ill and hundreds of thousands have died from the virus. But these harms have not been felt evenly. Immigrants and refugees have had disproportionately high risks of infection and mortality, in part due to frontline and close-proximity jobs. This uneven impact has drawn increased attention to factors that have long created vulnerabilities for migrants across the health continuum, including greater exposure to drivers of ill health (such as low income and poor housing) and barriers to accessing health services.
There is also a close link between migrant health and integration, as health problems may prevent immigrants from completing integration courses, from finding or maintaining employment, and from participating fully in their communities. Ensuring that health disparities are addressed and do not become long-term barriers to integration thus promises to foster more inclusive societies in addition to its benefits for individuals, families, and public health.
This report examines the impact of the pandemic on Europe’s migrant populations and how European governments and nongovernmental actors have responded, including with initiatives to improve health-care accessibility. It situates this discussion within a broader look at how the migrant health policy field has grown since the early 2000s, and how trends that have emerged during the COVID-19 crisis may further shape this policy area.
2 The COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens to Deepen Migrant Health Disparities and Impede Integration
3 The Migrant Health Policy Context
A. Putting Migrant Health on the International Policy Map
B. Migrant Health Policies in Europe
C. Broader Political and Economic Considerations
4 The European Response to COVID-19 and Migrant Health
A. Increasing Health-Care Entitlements and Access for Migrants
B. Translation, Information, and Outreach
C. Civil-Society Initiatives
5 Addressing Future Health Vulnerabilities