New publication outlines practical steps for refugee and migrant health data collection

In collaboration with Uppsala University, WHO/Europe has published new technical guidance that outlines why and how Member States should collect refugee and migrant-specific health data through their national health information systems (HIS).

As a result of increased mobility, societies have become more diverse – as have their health needs. The principle of leaving no one behind in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the advancement towards universal health coverage, one of the European Programme of Work’s core priorities, promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in public health goals.

Progress towards these goals cannot be measured without systematically collected data on both health and health-related indicators for refugees and migrants.

Inclusion of core variables promotes effective public health programmes targeting refugees and migrants

The new publication suggests integrating a set of core variables into HIS, which will facilitate disaggregation of data by migratory status, offering insights into the health status of refugees and migrants, which can then be translated into evidence-informed policies. These core variables include:

  • country of birth
  • country of citizenship
  • year and month of arrival
  • country of birth of both parents.

The publication is an important example of WHO/Europe collaborating closely with partners including the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and members of academia, to develop evidence-based documents that can guide Member States’ efforts to ensure the right to health for all.

Statement by Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University

“The International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH) Unit of the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Uppsala University, is a leading research and education division committed to disseminating knowledge that can contribute to creating a more just and equitable society. Translating knowledge into strategies and practical action for global health and migration is one of IMCH’s goals.

“Recently, IMCH has been working with WHO/Europe to promote the health and well-being of refugees and migrants. The latest output of the current collaboration is the development of the ‘Collection and integration of data on refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region. Technical guidance’.

“Reliable and good quality data is essential to reduce health inequality among all, including refugees and migrants, and to achieve the SDGs. Consistent data is needed to ensure policies are sound and that operational and legislative responses effectively reach those they are intended to help. The publication aims to assist decision-makers in developing evidence-informed policies and actions to ‘leave no one behind’.

“The technical guidance highlights the current status quo and offers practical solutions to address the gaps related to migration health data and HIS in the European Region. It provides practical guidance to integrate migration health data into national HIS, which present a valuable mechanism and offer information to develop targeted health interventions not only for refugees and migrants, but for the entire population, including other vulnerable groups.

“Uppsala University is honoured to support WHO/Europe in its efforts to safeguard and promote the health of refugees and migrants.”