WHO report shows poorer health outcomes for many vulnerable refugees and migrants

21 July, 2022

Extracts from a WHO news release and a comment from me below. Read online:



20 July 2022 News release

Around the world, millions of refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations, such as low-skilled migrant workers, face poorer health outcomes than their host communities, especially where living and working conditions are sub-standard, according to the first WHO World report on the health of refugees and migrants. This has dire consequences for the probability that the world will not achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals for these populations.

“Today there are some one billion migrants globally, about one in eight people. The experience of migration is a key determinant of health and wellbeing, and refugees and migrants remain among the most vulnerable and neglected members of many societies,” said Dr Tedros. “This report is the first to offer a global review of refugee and migrant health; it calls for urgent and collective action to ensure they can access health care services that are sensitive to their needs. It also illustrates the pressing need to address the root causes of ill health and to radically reorient health systems to respond to a world increasingly in motion.”


Implementing inclusive health systems that conform to the principle of right to health for all and universal health coverage would permit individuals in need of health services to be identified and supported early, before many problems become acute. Health systems are only as strong as their weakest link. The inclusion of refugees and migrants is a worthwhile investment for the development and wellbeing of societies around the world.


COMMENT (NPW): As we have discussed on HIFA, it is critical also to address the healthcare information needs of refugees and migrants. Very often they are disavantaged by not having access to reliable information in a language they can understand, and may also have special translation and interpretation needs with regards to communication with healthcare providers and administrative staff. Indeed, the full text of the 344-page report repeatedly notes these issues:

'Language barriers and a lack of knowledge pose challenges to migrants accessing family planning services'

'Evidence indicates that not providing information in a language that is understood by refugees and migrants inhibits their access to vaccines, medicines and wider health care services.'

'At a minimum, information should be available in languages that refugees and migrants can understand to allow them to make informed decisions and give consent.'

Best wishes, Neil

Joint Coordinator, HIFA Project on Multilingualism


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA, www.hifa.org neil@hifa.org

Global Healthcare Information Network: Working in official relations with WHO