Migrant health needs more attention, warns HPA

The health needs of migrants in South East England are poorly understood and requires more research to improve care for this group, a government report warns.

Care databases contain scant information on the health of migrant populations in this region, said the report published by the DoH and Heath Protection Agency (HPA). These systems need to capture better data on this group to help inform improved commissioning, it concluded.

The study, commissioned by the department, outlined a number of unique issues surrounding the healthcare of migrant populations.

TB, STIs, HIV and other infectious diseases pose specific challenges to some migrant communities. Many migrants come from countries where childhood vaccination programmes are poorly administered or differ from UK programmes.

In addition, there are barriers to accessing healthcare due to poor service knowledge, confusion about NHS entitlement to care, language and cultural issues.

Mental health issues also need to be considered. Asylum seekers and refugees are often fleeing persecution, violence, disaster or disease and have greater risk of serious mental health problems, it said.

The report concluded there needs to be more ‘intelligent’ data sources to track this group’s experience of health and social care.

Better training for health and social care workers is also needed ‘in understanding their roles in meeting the needs of migrants’, it said.

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