The growth of migration and population mobility, international trade and communication technologies are shaping global health, The relationships between these globalizing processes and health are introducing health into foreign policy discussions. Migration and mobility feature prominently in this dialogue by addressing the disease risks associated with increasing international population flows.
Population mobility encompasses the processes common to evolving patterns of human mobility, whereas migration reflects the legal and administrative aspects of the movement of individuals and groups. Relationships between migration, population mobility and health have long been acknowledged; however, they have received renewed attention due to the emerging and re-emerging infectious disease paradigm that has developed since the 1990s (see Table 1). (1) This attention has been accompanied by requests at the national government and international nongovernmental agency levels for foreign policy initiatives to address aspects of health in the context of migration and population mobility. (2)
Governments are now starting to concede the limits of domestic policy as the sole approach to the growing global health challenges of increasing migration. (3) As a result, health issues are being raised more often in foreign policy discussions. (4) Recent health policy initiatives reflect the continued relevance of historical policy responses to similar health threats within the travel and transportation sectors. (5-7) This paper reviews migration-related health issues relating to current and future foreign policy initiatives.
Migration, mobility and international health
Migrants are individuals who leave their legal place of origin and who cross international boundaries. Migration is commonly represented as a slow and unidirectional process resulting in permanent resettlement. However, modern population dynamics alter those concepts. Emigration and immigration continue to represent components of those populations that change their place of residence for work or study. Other, often larger, groups of migrants who are not immigrants in the legal or regulatory sense move regionally and internationally for varying periods of time.
Migrants may enter the host country by regular or unofficial means. Regular migrants may arrive for permanent or temporary residency; their international movements are regulated through mechanisms such as identity cards and travel documents (passports, visas and permits). These migrants are granted the rights to cross borders and remain for defined periods of time in a host country. These regulatory processes govern immigrants, refugees, participants in sanctioned humanitarian movements, migrant workers, travellers requiring visas or permits, international students, tourists and those travelling for business purposes. Irregular migrants, lack one or more of the following official authorizations to travel, enter, or reside in a host country. Irregular migrants are also referred to as illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and refugee claimants in various national jurisdictions, and may include individuals who have been smuggled or trafficked into the country. Irregular migrants also include migrants who were initially admitted legally to a host country, but who overstay their allowed residency period.
Nomads and internally displaced people share many characteristics with other mobile populations, but do not cross international borders. Nevertheless, they too may have health needs with implications for foreign policy. Together, these new patterns of population mobility influence and challenge existing international foreign policies relating to trade, economics and security. (8-10)
The health of migrants and non-migrants alike is influenced by determinants including genetics and biological factors, socioeconomic status, environmental exposure, and behaviour. …