The NIHMP participated in the High-level Meeting: “Increasing movement of displaced populations in the Mediterranean countries of the European Union: future challenges for health systems”
The North African crisis started in January 2011 is constantly evolving. This situation leads to the onset of a humanitarian emergency in the Maghrebian area, particularly Libya and the regions surrounding Tunisia and Egypt. It also involves the neighbouring European countries that should guarantee adequate health conditions for both the population fleeing North Africa and that of the host countries. Since January 2011, thousands of people reached the Mediterranean coasts of Europe.
The European countries mostly involved in the current migration movements decided to meet in Rome on 13 April 2011 for a High-level meeting on “Increasing movement of displaced populations in the Mediterranean countries of the European Union: future challenges for health systems”. The objective of the meeting was to strengthen cooperation and to improve international coordination on the health aspects of the crisis in order to make the health services able to meet emerging needs.
The event was organised by the Italian Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers and with the support of the WHO/Europe. A number of international personalities participated in the meeting, including high-level representatives from Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain, representatives of the main involved UN and EU agencies (WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)). The National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (NIHMP) was also involved in the event.
“Since the very beginning of the crisis”, says Prof. Ferruccio Fazio, Italian Minister of Health, “we have implemented initiatives for strengthening epidemiological surveillance and health care assistance of both refugees landing on the European coasts and the African populations who are at the centre of the crisis. In collaboration with the regional governments, we sent medical task forces and a multidisciplinary team from the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty. Also thanks to such prompt actions, we succeeded in preventing the hygienic emergency from becoming a health emergency. Our current commitment is now to spread epidemiological surveillance and medical assistance to reception centres for refugees in Italy and in the other destination countries. Tomorrow's Rome meeting will be the occasion to plan a series of measures for strengthening medical surveillance and protecting the health of migrants and of European citizens together with the WHO, the European Commission, the involved EU countries and other international organisations”.
“It is of fundamental importance”, declares John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, “to jointly manage the challenge raised by the huge migration flow from North Africa. Through the work of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Commission regularly monitors the situation for promptly identifying possible public health threats, and particularly the risks connected with infectious and epidemic diseases. EU regulations on infectious diseases provide an effective system for early warning, response and strategic information sharing between the Member States, the European Commission and the World Health Organisation”.
“The North African crisis adds a medical emergency to the challenge raised by population movements.” Says Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, “We should make our health system able to face the increased migration flow. Each migrant or asylum seeker, and particularly the most vulnerable ones, the people wounded, affected by chronic diseases or exhausted by the overcrowded environment and the difficult journey, should have early access to quality health services. This is also the most effective way for protecting the local population from possible health risks. WHO Europe, in collaboration with its partners, is ready to provide support for facing this kind of public health challenges”.
Source: Italian Ministry of Health, press release n. 85 of 12 April 2011