International recommendations on effective services to treat tuberculosis (TB), HIV and viral hepatitis for refugees and migrants lack implementation across the WHO European Region, says a new WHO report.
Refugees and migrants in many countries in the Region are disproportionately affected by communicable diseases such as TB, HIV and viral hepatitis. At the same time, they often face difficulties in accessing needed health services. To address this, WHO/Europe has developed several action plans to deliver effective services for treating TB, HIV and viral hepatitis.
A newly released Health Evidence Network (HEN) report gives an overview of how these recommendations are implemented within national policies and guidelines. The report found that:
- implementation varies widely among Member States across the Region;
- only 15 policies and guidelines on TB, HIV and viral hepatitis services for refugees and migrants were identified in the 53 Member States;
- often these policies and guidelines do not align with WHO and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recommendations; and
- research gaps exist regarding the cost-effectiveness of migrant-specific interventions for TB, HIV and viral hepatitis.
Designing people-centred TB, HIV and viral hepatitis services
Based on the synthesized evidence, the main policy considerations for Member States to improve TB, HIV and viral hepatitis services for refugees and migrants are to:
- engage in dialogues with WHO, particularly when policies do not align with WHO and ECDC recommendations;
- increase national efforts to inform and combat misinformation about migrants, address stigma and discrimination, and encourage and improve inclusive approaches;
- implement initiatives to improve awareness among refugees and migrants of relevant policies and guidelines that promote patients’ rights;
- strengthen health systems by providing awareness training on migrant health for health workers and removing barriers to access;
- strengthen routine data collection for migration health data and optimize targeted screening strategies; and
- conduct comprehensive assessments of access barriers with the involvement of refugee and migrant groups.
HEN reports: synthesizing the evidence for decision-makers
Evidence-informed policy-making is a core function of WHO/Europe, which works to ensure that the best available evidence is used to formulate national and regional policies and practices. To this end, the HEN Secretariat closely collaborated with the Joint Infectious Diseases Programme and the Migration and Health Programme to produce a reliable evidence base on guidelines and policies for effective TB, HIV and viral hepatitis services for refugees and migrants.
HEN synthesis report 74: What is the evidence on existing national policies and guidelines for delivering effective tuberculosis, HIV and viral hepatitis services for refugees and migrants among Member States of the WHO European Region?