Increased rates of migration to and within Europe in recent years has made the development of migration policy, including health policy, a priority for the region. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has issued new Public health guidance on screening and vaccination for infectious diseases in newly arrived migrants within the European Union and European Economic Area to provide evidence-based advice, based on the scientific assessment of targeted public health interventions, to facilitate effective screening and vaccination for priority infectious diseases among newly arrived migrant populations to the EU/EEA. It is intended to support EU/EEA Member States in the development of national strategies to strengthen infectious disease prevention and control among migrants. The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the “la Caixa” Foundation, has coordinated one of the report’s chapters.
The ECDC guidance suggests that screening child, adolescent and adult migrants for active TB and LTBI, HIV, HCV, HBV, strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis is likely efficient and cost-effective, and that there is a clear benefit to enrolling migrants in vaccination programmes and ensuring catch-up vaccinations where needed. This is, however, often conditioned by the burden of disease in migrants' countries of origin.
The guidance has been developed using a series of systematic evidence reviews and the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) framework. ISGlobal researcher Ana Requena, has coordinated the chapter on strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis, two neglected tropical diseases that are chronic and asymptomatic in most people, but that can be potentially serious in certain circumstances, and are unknown to most health professionals. "These guidelines will undoubtedly contribute to the screening and vaccination of migrants at risk, particularly for these two parasitic diseases," said Requena.
Migrants do not generally pose a health threat to the host population. However, some subgroups of migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases and may have worse health outcomes than the host population.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) was established in 2005. It is an EU agency aimed at strengthening Europe's defences against infectious diseases. ECDC's mission is to identify, assess and communicate current and emerging threats to human health posed by infectious diseases.