Advocating for an interdisciplinary approach to Migration and Health

The movement from one country to another, whether by choice or by force, is a reality that we continue to confront around the world. It is the specific health consequences, physically and mentally, resulting from this movement that sit at the intersection of migration and health. These health issues are inevitably intertwined with migration and often affect all aspects of life.

During the upcoming Joep Lange Chair and Fellows Symposium, four distinctly diverse experts will speak on different aspects of migration and health. The Symposium will cover topics ranging from mental health of refugees to the health detriments faced by migrants during cultural integration. After each speaker, there will be an opportunity to ask questions, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Roel Coutinho, a professor in Epidemiology and Prevention of infectious diseases and the former director of the Netherlands Center for Infectious Disease Control from 2005-2013.

The event will begin with a talk from Prof. Melissa Siegel, who will provide an overview of the intersection of migration and health with her lecture titled, The Effects of Migration on Access to Healthcare and Health Outcomes. Melissa Siegel is a Professor of Migration Studies at the United Nations University-MERIT and Maastricht University where she specializes in issues of migration and development. In her talk, she will focus on the barriers to health access that migrants face on a daily basis. “Access to information is tricky and they might not know a new healthcare system. Additionally, different groups of people come with different health needs.” Migrants often face a steep learning curve when it comes to healthcare accessibility and knowledge. Prof. Siegel will share her thoughts and research on the positive and negative effects of migration on health.

Following Prof. Siegel will be Dr. Tamar de Waal, assistant-professor at the Amsterdam Law School of the University of Amsterdam. Dr. de Waal specializes in citizenship and integration using interdisciplinary legal research methods. Her talk is titled, Dutch Civic Integration Policies and Health. During the Symposium, Tamar de Waal will discuss how integration policies were created, and will illustrate that “health and healthcare have never been the main goals when receiving migrants within our civic integration policies.” While Dr. de Waal’s research and lecture will primarily focused on Dutch integration, this example can be used as an archetype for integration policies throughout Europe and beyond.

After gaining an understanding of the legalities surrounding migration and health, Prof. Ibrahim Abubakar will provide an overview of the Lancet Migration Commission findings using three case studies in his talk titled, Migration and Health: The Defining Issue of our Time. These case studies will specifically alert us to the health issues surrounding the forced displacement in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and health worker migration. Prof. Abubakar is the Dean of Population Health Science at the University College of London and Chair of Lancet Migration: global collaboration to advance migration health.

Finally, Dr. Peter Ventevogel will conclude the symposium with his insights on the mental health of refugees. Dr. Ventevogel is the Senior Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). His talk will allow for a deeper dive into a topic that is often omitted when discussing migration and health. Dr. Ventevogel’s talk, entitled Mental Health Interventions for Refugees: Towards a Pragmatic Consensus, will focus on the mental health challenges that accompany those who are forced to flee due to armed conflict and persecution. For many years, the mental health of displaced populations received insufficient attention in the humanitarian response. This has been changing in recent decades. Dr. Ventevogel will illustrate the watershed moments that made global mental health a priority in refugee settings in low- and middle-income countries and present the innovative approaches that have been developed.

The Joep Lange Symposium will take place on 03 November 2022. If you are interested in joining us in person or online, please register now. Space is limited for those who wish to attend in person.