Data and information on the health of refugees and migrants, and information and dialogue with the migrants, are crucial to address the health challenges and prioritise interventions. The type of data that should be collected, by whom, at what level and to what purpose needs discussion, consensus and standardisation. Knowing the occurrence of infectious and non-infectious disease in migrant populations, it is necessary to respond appropriately to individual and population needs aligned with global health principles. Reliable knowledge about migrant groups and health is a prerequisite for equal access to prevention and treatment of illness. Equal opportunities for achieving good health should be one of the key priorities of global migrant health.
The following recommendations should be considered. First, researchers and policy makers need to agree on standardised definitions of ‘migrants’ and acquire complete and reliable data matching those definitions. Second, government and donors need to address information gaps in order to ensure the development of a framework to monitor disease and ill-health among migrant populations. Third, policy makers, researchers and practitioners must prioritise research on medium-/long-term migration health, including longitudinal studies on integration and health, intervention studies documenting what has and has not worked, and global comparative studies evaluating migrant populations in several countries, including countries of origin, must be prioritised.
Driven by global health principles, migrant health requires coordination and collaboration in the health sector and beyond among healthcare providers, public, private and non-governmental organisations. Besides human rights, legal frameworks and the economic arguments, public opinion and humanitarian aspects must galvanise political action.
It is worth remembering Martin Luther King in an address to the Second National Convention of the Medical Committee of Human Rights in 1966: ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.’ It remains to be seen whether this situation has changed more than 50 years later.