Health equity and accessibility for migrants is a peremptory demand

refugee crisis

Democratic Republic of Congo/ Burundian refugees/A woman with her child in Kavimvira transit.

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Mohamed Shoman, a toxicology and forensic demonstrator at faculty of medicine & Ms. Sara Shoman, a family medicine resident at faculty of medicine at Ain Shams University. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Migration is growing all over the world which puts health systems in an obstacle of coverage and acquisition. Migrants have been facing discrimination on many levels but focusing on health care, they are suffering the lack of accessibility and the absence of equity in comparison to the countries’ citizens by the act of administrative work and racism. That’s why Global compact for migration final draft was emphasizing on the importance of improving cooperation and share responsibilities on multiple stages to enhance the state of migrants, thus it will be reflected on health systems.

Actions need to be taken by governments to ensure fulfilling the GCM objectives, and this will happen by multi-sectorial approaches. As the main issue that hinder migrants from seeking medical help is the fear from being deported or undergo judicial punishments as they don’t posses official papers for their stay in the country. Therefor governments has to empower migrants by issuing them official papers in order to seek health consultations as well as enforce a law against any discrimination or misconduct whether by health care professionals or society members to guarantee safety of migrants.

The fact that securing health care accessibility and high quality of services for migrants will be an asset towards achieving universal health coverage, it is also could be considered as a long term investment as declining the morbidity and mortality rates among migrants will lead to healthy society as there will be no fear of epidemic attacks or disease spreading among population.

In order to facilitate health service delivery, technology is a major advantage in that case. Most migrants tend to live in areas far away from the capitals and main cities for cheaper life, as well as they are economically disadvantaged, so they aren’t able to pay for health services. That’s why technology is very important, by having Tele-medicine and mobile health units that offer free health services and at the same time will guarantee its professionally and high quality.

Efforts are needed in order to advocate for the migrants’ rights for free and equitable health services on both governmental and societal levels. Ministries of health together with the Ministries of migration need to work together to constitute code of conduct, which includes free access as well as equity assurance by the force of law.

In Egypt, we have a law of free access for the first 48 hours regardless to the state of the person, whether a citizen or a migrant, holding an identity card or not. Although we are on the first steps of implementing the objectives of the GCM, but still advocators have a long path with the society as well as the government officials, and a lot more need to be done on the level of health and legal sectors and to assure safety, resilience and sustainability.

But the question will remain, will the governments command laws to protect migrants, or personal interests and egotism will be striking.

About the authors

Mr. Mohamed Shoman is a toxicology and forensic demonstrator at faculty of medicine, Ain Shams University. He has been a member of IFMSA since 2011 and was the National officer for human rights and peace for the term 2014-2015. He has been working on projects targeting refugees and migrants for 8 years. In 2018, he joined UNMGCY and joined the group working on the global compact for migration, as well as he was part of the OC for the preparation of the international conference for migration youth forum in Marrakech. Migrants’ health has been and will always be his field of interest.

Ms. Sara Shoman is a family medicine resident at faculty of medicine, Ain Shams University. She has been a member of IFMSA since 2011 and was the public health local officer for the term 2013-2014 and a national human rights trainer since 2014. She worked on projects targeting refugees and migrants for several years. In 2018, she joined UNMGCY and joined the group working on the global compact for migration, as well as she was part of the OC for the preparation of the international conference for migration youth forum in Marrakech. Migrants’ health is her concern since very early.

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