Respiratory Health in Migrant Populations: A Crisis Overlooked

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2017 Feb;14(2):153-159. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201608-592PS.


The crisis in the Middle East has raised awareness about the challenges encountered by migrant populations, in particular, health-care access and delivery. Similar challenges are encountered by migrant populations around the world, including those entering the United States as refugees and/or survivors of torture as well as Mexicans and other Latin Americans crossing the border. During the 2016 International American Thoracic Society Meeting held in San Francisco, California, a group of researchers and health-care providers discussed these challenges at a minisymposium devoted to the respiratory health of migrants. The discussion focused on the increased incidence of airway diseases among individuals migrating to more developed countries, the problems created by sleep disorders and their implications for cardiovascular and mental health, the challenges inherent in the control of infections in refugee populations, and the problems resulting from deportation. The group also discussed the potential impact of novel strategies made available by Internet-based technologies and how these strategies could be deployed to support worldwide efforts in assisting migrants and refugees, even in countries that find themselves in the direst circumstances. These presentations are summarized in this document, which is not meant to be exhaustive, but to improve awareness about the challenges confronted by migrants and their host nations regarding respiratory health-care access and delivery, and about the need for adequate investment of resources to better define these challenges through research and for the development of efficient strategies for intervention.

Keywords: asthma; deportation; lung; refugees; sleep.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / ethnology
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Refugees
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / ethnology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / ethnology
  • Transients and Migrants*
  • United States / epidemiology