The basic principles of migration health: population mobility and gaps in disease prevalence

Emerg Themes Epidemiol. 2006 May 4;3:3. doi: 10.1186/1742-7622-3-3.


Currently, migrants and other mobile individuals, such as migrant workers and asylum seekers, are an expanding global population of growing social, demographic and political importance. Disparities often exist between a migrant population's place of origin and its destination, particularly with relation to health determinants. The effects of those disparities can be observed at both individual and population levels. Migration across health and disease disparities influences the epidemiology of certain diseases globally and in nations receiving migrants. While specific disease-based outcomes may vary between migrant group and location, general epidemiological principles may be applied to any situation where numbers of individuals move between differences in disease prevalence. Traditionally, migration health activities have been designed for national application and lack an integrated international perspective. Present and future health challenges related to migration may be more effectively addressed through collaborative global undertakings. This paper reviews the epidemiological relationships resulting from health disparities bridged by migration and describes the growing role of migration and population mobility in global disease epidemiology. The implications for national and international health policy and program planning are presented.