Refugee and migrant health

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

Cold weather increases health risks for refugees and migrants in Serbia and other countries in the Region

As cold temperatures continue across the WHO European Region, conditions worsen for those in the most vulnerable situations, including refugees and migrants stranded in countries.

UNHCR/Daniel Etter

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’.

WHO meeting on the development of the organization-wide framework on health and migration

WHO meeting on the development of the organization-wide framework to address the health needs of migrants and refugees.

On 12-14 December 2016, the WHO headquarters organized a meeting, supported and hosted by the Regional Director of the WHO European Region, to start the process to develop an Organization-wide Framework for Action on Health and Migration.

UNHCR/Scott Nelson

WHO launches European Knowledge Hub on Migration and Health

In November 2016, WHO launched the first ever European Knowledge Hub on Health and Migration, with financial support provided by the Regional Health Council of Sicily, Italy. The Knowledge Hub will support the work of those who deal directly with the health aspects of migration, serving as a repository for scientific evidence on the subject.


Development of Strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region

During the 66th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe (RC66), Member States and partners endorsed a strategy and action plan for refugee and migrant health in the WHO European Region.


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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