The results of the programme to monitor the state of health of the migrant population (GMM 2005) and other studies in Switzerland show that socio economic situation, migratory profile and the migrants’ own perception of well-being influence their health status. For example, those in a socially disadvantaged situation, with an insecure residence status are particularly exposed to risk factors affecting their health. These risk factors include tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet, excess weight, lack of physical activity, not to mention difficult living conditions. However, the migrants’ own resources and the potential these represent in the field of health are still relatively unknown.
Moreover, the health system and health promotion and prevention programmes do not take the diverse lifestyles, representational codes, value systems, etc. existing in a migration context sufficiently into account. Yet these aspects influence health behaviour, use of health services and the perception of preventive messages, and are important when it comes to reaching migrants or members of other minorities.
These observations show the importance of promoting equity for the migrant population in the matter of health promotion and prevention, which is a key objective of the Ottawa Charter (WHO). This could lead to a better use of resources, and help to mobilize the health potential of the migrant community. In addition, an approach geared to the needs of migrants is an excellent opportunity for quality projects to test their sensitivity to the diversity inherent to all target groups.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- You underestimate the influence of factors directly linked to migration on the health and well-being of migrants.
- You do not believe you have the knowledge, information and know-how needed to incorporate the « migration » dimension in your intervention.
- You are worried that including a migrant group will compromise the success of your project.
- You worry that if you focus on a group of migrants or include them in the target group, your project will receive less financial support from sponsors.
What you have to gain
- By incorporating the « migration » dimension into your approach to intervention you will contribute to improving public health.
- You have a better chance of reaching one of the most disadvantaged target groups.
- You will be contributing to equal opportunities by reinforcing migrants’ capacity to act (empowerment).
- You will enhance your capacity to intervene by mobilizing the great potential that the migrants’ own social and individual resources represent.
What you can actually do
If you believe it is important to include migratory factors in your approach, you can consult the basic document “migration and health” and its check list. .
If need be, you can organize a debate on the subject in your group.
If you are still not fully convinced and/or if you believe you need additional information providing more detailed arguments, we suggest you also consult the basic document “migration and health”, where you will find a glossary, a list of relevant links and addresses, a detailed bibliography and a document discussing the specific needs of migrant populations and other target groups regarding health promotion and prevention.
Questions for critical reflection
- Are you certain that migratory context or socio-cultural background really are considered as possible determining factors for migrants’ health and well-being in your concept and intervention approach?