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Policy & Global Development

Health at the Core of the Migration Debate


“Migration is a planetary force shaping the 21st century society”. With these words, Antoni Plasència, ISGlobal director, opened the seminar “Migration, Health and Cities” jointly organised by ISGlobal and the CIDOB, with the support of the “Europe for Citizens” Programme, on November 30. The event brought together experts, health care professionals, politicians and NGO activists to debate on the health challenges posed by migration in the countries of origin, transit and destination.

The first session, chaired by Leire Pajín, director of Global Development at ISGlobal, focused on the problems in the transit and destination countries. “Migration is at the heart of the European-Mediterranean process and the best way of tackling these challenges is promoting regional stability, social development and economic growth” explained Marisa Farrugia, special envoy to the Secretary General, Union for the Mediterranean. In this respect, Rafael Vilasanjuan, director of Policy and Global Development at ISGlobal, presented the Mediterranean Health Observatory, particularly its research line on migration that seeks to understand and tackle health problems in the region. 

The two following sessions focused on the health challenges in recipient countries and, more specifically, in the cities. The latter are the main destination of migrants and therefore play a crucial role in tackling specific health requirements at the local level. David Malmusi, director of Health Services of the City of Barcelona, called for an inclusive perspective and for health access criteria based on residence, as occurs in Barcelona, rather than on nationality. In turn, ISGlobal researcher Ana Requena spoke about health policies targeting migrant communities.   

Petra Tiarks, Responsible for Humanitarian Consultation Hours at the Frankfurt City Council presented her experience in medical practice intended for migrants and highlighted the importance of reinforcing the psychosocial care of the patients.  Finally, Teresa Sancristoval, Responsible for the Emergency Unit at Médécins Sans Frontières, pointed out that despite the clear link between the country of origin and the epidemiology, migrants’ health is very much affected by the travel conditions: duration, climate conditions, exposure to violence and safety conditions.