When Global meets Local Health
Congress on pregnancy and migrants in Europe.
On Friday 9th June 2017, medical (SUMMA) students & UMCU Julius Global Health research associates Julia Tankink and Noor Gieles joined the conference ‘Pregnancy and Migrations’ in the city hall of Paris. They presented a poster on the preliminary results of two systematic literature reviews that are currently being carried out under supervision of Dr. Joyce Browne and Dr. Marcus Rijken, titled: ‘Maternal and perinatal health in asylum seekers, status holders and undocumented immigrants in Europe: 2 systematic literature reviews’.
Pregnancy and Migration
Migrants in Europe present a potentially vulnerable group in the healthcare system. Among these migrants (a collective term for both older generation migrants as well as new asylum seekers, undocumented immigrants and refugees who were recently granted residence permits) are many women in their fertile years. These women are faced with many challenges that could lead to adverse maternal or perinatal pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, offering accessible and culturally-sensitive obstetric healthcare is of utmost importance. Yet, the distressing fact remains that European healthcare systems fail to provide adequate access and quality of healthcare to this group, reflected by higher mortality and morbidity rates in migrant mothers and their children compared to host country populations.
The congress sought to bring together international experts to share their experiences and research in the field of migrants and maternal health. These objectives were realized through panel discussions, poster presentations, lectures and public discussions. The versatility of specialists present (among whom were epidemiologists, gynecologists, midwifes, NGO representatives and anthropologists) lead to a rich discussion regarding the problems faced and their potential solutions. Reports of research findings were challenged by experiences of reality of different professionals working in the field. Regardless of this variety in perspective, all attendants agreed on the essential conclusion of the day: the current system fails to serve the population of pregnant migrants as well as it should. Moreover, the importance of recognizing the heterogeneity in characteristics between groups of migrants in research and clinical care was emphasized. Possibilities for political lobby, collaboration in drafting policy objectives and concrete project ideas were discussed. Through working on this shared agenda, the day proved that collective actions are possible and necessary to decrease social inequality in maternal health and aid the struggle for a healthier future for migrant women and their newborns. For us personally, this message inspired us to continue working with dedication on our research.