Refugee and migrant health

Migrant populations, including children, at higher risk of mental health disorders

Refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants are at heightened risk for certain mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress, depression and psychosis. Child refugees traumatized and among those most at risk.

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

Famine and health

Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan and the food security situation is of grave concern in 6 other countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, and Yemen. Very high levels of severe acute malnutrition have been reported in the the most affected countries.

EPA/D. Kurokawa

The 140th Executive Board Decision on Promoting the health of refugees and migrants

On 31 January 2017, during the 140th Executive Board Session, the Executive Board made a Decision on ‘Promoting the health of refugees and migrants’.

2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health: Resetting the agenda

Member States, international organizations, academia, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders engaged in a meaningful platform for multi-sectoral dialogue and commitment to discuss the health aspects of refugees and migrants, in the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health, on 21 - 23 February 2017, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

IOM/Abir Abdullah

WHO Europe Summer School on Refugee and Migrant Health

WHO/Europe is pleased to announce the 1st Summer School on Refugee and Migrant Health, an intense 5-day course offered under the umbrella of the WHO European Knowledge Hub on Health and Migration. The Summer School will take place in Syracuse, Italy, on 10–14 July 2017, and is organized in collaboration with the Health Initiative of the Americas at the University of California, Berkeley, United States of America.


More people are on the move now than ever before. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today of whom 250 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.

250 million

Globally, there are an estimated 250 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
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1211 Geneva 27


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Advance working document - draft framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants

In January 2017, the WHO Executive Board, at its 140th session, decided to request the Director-General to develop a draft framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants, to be considered by the Seventieth World Health Assembly. An advance working draft of the framework has been made available by WHO Secretariat to Member States through this link below. The password has been kindly circulated on another fora. For more information, please contact