Sexual and reproductive health of migrants: does the EU care?

Health Policy. 2014 Feb;114(2-3):215-25. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2013.10.007. Epub 2013 Nov 6.


The European Union (EU) refers to health as a human right in many internal and external communications, policies and agreements, defending its universality. In parallel, specific health needs of migrants originating from outside the EU have been acknowledged. Yet, their right to health and in particular sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is currently not ensured throughout the EU. This paper reflects on the results of a comprehensive literature review on migrants' SRH in the EU applying the Critical Interpretive Synthesis review method. We highlight the discrepancy between a proclaimed rights-based approach to health and actual obstacles to migrants' attainment of good SRH. Uncertainties on entitlements of diverse migrant groups are fuelled by unclear legal provisions, creating significant barriers to access health systems in general and SRH services in particular. Furthermore, the rare strategies addressing migrants' health fail to address sexual health and are generally limited to perinatal care and HIV screening. Thus, future European public health policy-making should not only strongly encourage its Member States to ensure equal access to health care for migrants as for EU citizens, but also promote migrants' SRH effectively through a holistic and inclusive approach in SRH policies, prevention and care.

Keywords: European Union; Human rights; Inequity; Migrants; Migration; Policy development; Sexual health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • European Union
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Transients and Migrants*