Prevention and control of communicable diseases at migrant holding centres

Added April 11, 2020

Citation: Riccardo F, Suk JE, Espinosa L, et al. Key dimensions for the prevention and control of communicable diseases in institutional settings: a scoping review to guide the development of a tool to strengthen preparedness at migrant holding centres in the EU/EEA. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2018; 15(6): 1120

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic is particularly concerning for people living in overcrowded settings. Migrant holding centres face many challenges in the prevention and control of communicable diseases. For example, in the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA), undocumented migrants and asylum seekers are often placed in temporary accommodation or holding facilities, where initial medical assessments and screening take place.

In this scoping review, the authors searched for studies to 1) identify challenges for prevention and control of communicable diseases in migrant centres and similar institutional settings, and 2) describe suitable approaches to assess strengths and weaknesses in addressing communicable diseases in migrant centres. They restricted their search to articles published in English, French and Italian between 2000 and 2015 and did their most recent search in December 2015. They included 43 articles from journals and 54 reports from the grey literature.

What was found: Frequent transmission pathways in migrant centres include human-to-human transmissions, water- and foodborne infections, and skin infections.

Critical interventions for communicable disease prevention and control include living conditions, notably minimising overcrowding; effective coordination among various stakeholders; health information, especially related to early detection and reporting; human resources; physical infrastructure; and health financing.

Evidence and experience from correctional facilities can be relevant for informing priorities and policies at migrant centres due to their similarities.

What’s uncertain: Generally, little research has specifically addressed challenges and needs related to communicable disease management at EU/EEA migrant centres. There is no common standard or reference for EU/EEA migrant centres on communicable diseases prevention and control.



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