Scathing report on health-related migrant policies


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • International Medical News
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Linking health status to migration enforcement is reinforcing distrust in the health profession, and Iimits migrants' ability to access health care on a non-discriminatory basis, according to a new report from the University College London-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health. 

The Commission points to a growing trend of states limiting access to health care for migrants. The fear of deportation can mean migrants will not seek health care or assistance when needed, hindering individual and public health, the report states. The Commission said that in practice, health-related enforcement regimes can pressure health workers to act as immigration control agents.

It also highlighted policies that restrict entry based on health status. In Australia, permanent residency application can be rejected because the applicant has a health condition - the five most common reasons were intellectual or functional impairment, HIV, cancer and renal disease. Thirty-five countries have imposed some form of travel ban on people with HIV.

Restrictions on entry or deportation for diseases with low risk of casual transmission are impermissible on both public health and human rights grounds, the Commission said.

The Commission is calling on governments to improve migrants' access to health services and tackle the wider determinants of migrant health.