Health Policy

Who Cares for the Health of Migrants?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - Thursday, October 12, 2017 Add to Calendar

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and OXFAM-America are co-sponsoring a two-day conference on ‘Who Cares for the Health of Migrants?’ which will be held at the Galveston Campus of UTMB on October 11-12, 2017. The conference is also organized in partnership with Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF), Texas Medical Center (TMC) and Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC).

The conference is designed to provide a platform for a constructive policy dialogue among relevant stakeholder groups concerned with the health status of the world’s migrant population. Those include immigrant residents, law and policy makers, government leaders, health care professionals, the faith community, health system administrators, academicians, researchers, community-based service providers, and international and multilateral organization representatives.


  • To better understand immigrant health status and access to care.
  • To comprehend the role and contributions of various entities, like government, academic institutions and community organizations, in addressing the gaps in policy and intervening on behalf of migrants.
  • To identify concrete next steps to enhance collaboration among concerned organizations and individuals.


The world is witnessing an unprecedented increase in human mobility with more than one billion people around the world (one out of every seven) categorized as in-country displaced or international migrants.[1-3] Currently, 48 percent of international migrants are women[2], 72 percent are of working age[4], and 15 percent are less than 20 years old.[2] The majority of international migrants (71 percent) emigrate from South and Central America.[5]

Between 1990 and 2013 a remarkable increase in migration occurred in the Americas with the immigrant population increasing by 78 percent from 34 million to 61 million. This increase in migration throughout the Americas is more than double the increase observed in other parts of the world during the same timeframe. The U.S. was the destination of choice for the majority of these immigrants, with nearly 46 million[6] settling in the U.S. in 2013.


Many immigrants, especially those who are unauthorized, have little to access to health care or choose not to take advantage of existing resources due to fear of deportation (cite source). This is a serious national public health concern according to the American College of Physicians (ACP) which asserts that existing legislation and immigration policy increase the fear of the exposure among unauthorized immigrants resulting in limited use of health care services, which can delay diagnosis and treatment thereby creating additional burdens on the health care system nationwide.[7]

But in their systematic review, Hacker, et al. (2015) concluded that immigrants’ access to health care is constrained by a wide range of barriers in addition to the direct impact of immigrant-related legislation and policy.[8] Health system-related barriers include bureaucratic obstacles associated with registration and application processes, costly out-of-pocket expenses levied at the point of service, discriminatory practices at both the institutional and individual levels, and a lack of culturally appropriate programs and services.[8, 9]

  1. International Organization of Migration, World Migration Report 2015 – Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility. 2015: International Organization for Migration.
  2. International Organization of Migration. 2015 Global Migration Trends: Factsheet. 2015; Available from:
  3. Le Mesurier, S. The Phenomenon of Migration: Its Significance or Meaning in Human Societies Throughout History. 2012; Available from:
  4. International Labour Organization (ILO), ILO Global Estimates on Migrant Workers: Results and Methodology – Special Focus on Migrant Domestic Workers.
  5. United Nations, World Population Prospects: Key Findings and Tables. 2015.
  6. Organization of American States, International Migration in the Americas: Third Report of the Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas (SICREMI). 2015.
  7. American College of Physicians, National Immigration Policy and Access to Health Care. 2011.
  8. Hacker, K., et al., Barriers to Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants: A Literature Review. Risk Management Health Policy. 2015; 8: 175–183, 2015.
  9. Pereira, K.M., et al., Barriers to immigrants Access to Health and Human Services Program. 2012, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.


For more information and registration, visit:


Levin Hall, University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB)

102 Market St, Galveston, TX 77550


Hani Serag