Refugee and migrant health

Reports on situation analysis and practices in addressing the health needs of refugees and migrants

In alignment with World Health Assembly resolution 70.15, WHO made an online call from August 2017 to January 2018 for contributions on evidence-based information, best practices, experiences and lessons learned in addressing the health needs of refugees and migrants. Between August 2017 and January 2018, 199 submissions were received, covering 85 countries, from 52 Member States and partners such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and the International Labour Organization.

Proposed Health Component in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

WHO in close cooperation with IOM, ILO and other stakeholders, has developed the Proposed Health Component in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The document proposes eight actionable commitments and the means of implementation based on the Framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants. This is part of the WHO’s efforts to ensure that the public health aspects of migrants are adequately addressed in the Global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration and to provide resources to Member States.

IOM/Sudipto Das

Mental health of refugees and migrants

Being a refugee or a migrant does not, in itself, make individuals significantly more vulnerable to mental disorders, but refugees and migrants can be exposed to various stress factors that influence their mental well-being.

UNHCR/Sebastian Rich

ERS-WHO/Europe survey of TB screening practices among refugees reveals need for improved coordination to end TB

Results from a survey by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe show great variations among countries in tuberculosis (TB) screening practices among refugees.

UNHCR/Rasheed Hussain Rasheed

More people are on the move now than ever before. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today of whom 258 million are international migrants and 763 million internal migrants – one in seven of the world’s population. 65 million of the world’s internal and international migrants are forcibly displaced today. This rapid increase of population movement has important public health implications, and therefore requires an adequate response from the health sector.

The right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is established in the WHO Constitution of 1948. Ratified international human rights standards and conventions exist to protect the rights of migrants and refugees, including their right to health. Nevertheless, many refugees and migrants often lack access to health services and financial protection for health.

258 million

Globally, there are an estimated 258 million international migrants, and 763 million internal migrants.

65 million

Globally, there are an estimated 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes.


Developing countries host 86% of the forced displaced population.

The 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Agenda recognizes the positive contributions of refugees and migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The recent large-scale population movement has posed epidemiological and health system challenges, to which public health and health systems must adjust.

Lack of Universal Health Coverage can lead to excessive costs for refugees and migrants, many of whom pay out of pocket for health services.

What is WHO doing?

UNHCR/Hélène Caux

The access of refugees and migrants to quality, essential health services is of paramount importance to rights-based health systems, global health security and to public efforts aimed at reducing health inequities.

External partners

Open source

Health and migration is a multi-dimensional matter. WHO is working with key partners to address the health needs of refugees and migrants.

Personal stories

UNHCR/Sebastian Rich

A space for personal stories of refugees and migrants.

Contact us

Health and Migration
Service Delivery and Safety
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27


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