Immigrants – a challenge for European health care systems

The 2005 European health forum says that immigrants have become the biggest problem group in public health care systems and refers to the health of immigrants as an indicator of successful integration.

“Immigrants have become the biggest problem group in European health care systems,” said Istvan Szilard of the International Organisation for Migration. His comments come during a forum which brings together European health politicians, decision-makers, representatives and interest groups in Gastein (Austria) 5-8 October 2005. 

Istvan Szilard said that immigrants and people belonging to ethnic minorities are “ill disproportionately often” because of their often poor social position, low income and health-endangering work. According to a forum press release, they also lack health awareness as, due to language barriers or bureaucracy, they often have no access to health-related information or services.  

The main focus of the 2005 European health forum is to increase citizens’ motivation for a healthier lifestyle – as specialists agree that proper nutrition and a sufficient degree of physical activity are the keys to improving the overall health care situation. 

The health forum’s preconference on 4 October focused on improving health care infrastructure in an enlarged Europe and discussed the economic opportunities that investment in health infrastructure in the new EU member states could bring. Investment in health infrastructure is a key challenge especially for the new member states as their health sector suffers from under-investment. The EU’s regional policy instruments are to fund investment in health care from 2007. 

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