Migrants to Europe who live in poor conditions susceptible to developing NCDs

22nd January 2019

Migrants and refugees in Europe have generally good health but are susceptible to developing NCDs including cardiovascular diseases, stroke or cancer, if they live in poverty, according to a new WHO report.

The finding mirrors the main conclusion of the “Report on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region” – refugees are likely to have good general health but can be at risk of falling sick because of living conditions or changes in their lifestyle. It summarises the latest available evidence on the health of refugees and migrants in the WHO European Region – from a review of more than 13,000 documents – and the progress countries have made to promote their health.

Less physical activity, healthy food

The report also found that migrants and refugees are more prone to risk factors for NCDs because they are likely to change their lifestyle to engage in less physical activity and consume less healthy food.

Other NCDs-related findings include:

  • Refugees and migrants are at lower risk for all forms of cancer, except cervical cancer. However, cancer in refugees and migrants is more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage, which can lead to considerably worse health outcomes than those of the host population.
  • Depression and anxiety tend to affect refugees and migrants more than host populations. However, variation by migrant group and in the methods used to assess prevalence make it hard to draw firm conclusions.
  • In general, refugees and migrants have a higher incidence, prevalence and mortality rate for diabetes than the host population, with higher rates in women.

See the full report