Health Protection Agency publishes first Migrant Health Report

There is generally a low rate of infectious disease among migrants in England , Wales and Northern Ireland, although the majority of patients newly diagnosed with HIV, TB and malaria are born outside the UK. These findings are published today in a new report from the Health Protection Agency, ?Migrant health: infectious diseases in non-UK born populations in England , Wales & Northern Ireland ‘.

Dr Jane Jones , one of the authors of the Agency’s first report into migrant health, said: ?In 2004, 70% of TB cases and HIV cases reported in England , Wales and Northern Ireland and 70% of malaria cases reported in the UK were in patients born outside the UK . Migrants clearly have a disproportionate burden of infectious diseases, and this report suggests some ways in which we can tackle that.

?However it is important to remember that most migrants are healthy young adults who have come to the UK mainly to work or study. There is little evidence that the general UK-born population are at risk of catching disease from affected migrants, although some UK-born ethnic minority communities may be at increased risk. Migrants may also continue to be at risk of infectious diseases after they have arrived in the UK , either because of exposure here or as a result of travel back to their country of origin.?

The report makes a number of recommendations to improve the health of migrant populations, including strengthening provision of culturally appropriate and language-supported health services, increasing awareness of disease in migrant communities and their health care practitioners, and improving surveillance systems.

Professor Pat Troop , Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency, said: “It is important to establish health profiles for every section of the community. For the first time, the Health Protection Agency has brought together data from a range of sources on a number of diseases which will enable health professionals to gain a clear picture of migrant health.

“This will play a vital role in the planning and provision of health services. Many organisations will be involved in taking forward the report’s recommendations and we will work closely with our partners, particularly within the NHS, to determine the best public health response.”

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