Health problems of newly arrived migrants and refugees in Europe

J Travel Med. 2017 Jul 1;24(4). doi: 10.1093/jtm/tax016.


Background: The number of migrants and refugees in Europe in the past few years has increased dramatically due to war, violence or prosecutions in their homeland. Migration may affect physical, mental and social health. The objective of this article is to assess migrants and refugees' health problems, and to recommend appropriate interventions.

Methods: A PubMed search of published articles on health problems of newly arrived migrants and refugees was conducted from 2003 through 2016, focusing on the current refugee crisis in Europe.

Results: In addition to communicable diseases, such as respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatologic infections, non-communicable diseases, including chronic conditions, mental and social problems, account for a significant morbidity burden in newly arrived migrants and refugees. Vaccine-preventable diseases are also of outmost importance. The appropriate management of newly arrived refugees and migrants' health problems is affected by barriers to access to health care including legal, communication, cultural and bureaucratic difficulties. There is diversity and lack of integration regarding health care provision across Europe due to policy differences between health care systems and social services.

Conclusion: There is a notable burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases among newly arrived migrants and refugees. Provision of health care at reception and temporary centres should be integrated and provided by a multidisciplinary team Appropriate health care of migrants and refugees could greatly enhance their health and social status which will benefit also the host countries at large.

Keywords: Health; migrants; problems; refugees.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases / etiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Refugees*
  • Travel Medicine*