Can we set migration and health as a national health target?
Setting health targets is a common approach for health systems, in order to coordinate their efforts and to develop and prioritise health policies. In Germany, health targets are set by a process established by the Health Targets Network . This network consists of more than 120 stakeholders who work together to identify and set health targets. In order to do so, they use 13 standardised criteria, which are supposed to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of different targets.
In a study we recently published, the authors were asked to review the topic of migration and health as a potential new health target. This topic is relevant not only to the German society (where about 20% of people have a migration background) but to other European and non European countries, as mobility of people is rapidly increasing.
The authors undertook a non-systematic, extensive review of the data for each of the 13 predefined criteria. They found that -although migrant populations have some health advantages- their health status in on average lower than that of the general population. They also experience barriers in accessing health care. Nevertheless, implementation of measures to improve the situation is limited.
This subject, at the end, was not selected as a national health target; it was instead recommended to take migration into account during implementation of all other health targets. The authors identified some issues that can prove useful for future similar exercises:
– There is a lack of comparable and specific data; data collection is also not optimal.
– Population-based targets are holistic and require different approaches than problem- or disease-oriented targets.
– The present documentation can assist other countries in evaluating migration and health as possible national health target. It could also contribute to similar activities at the European level, as international perspective in Public Health is very important in our time.