Refugee and Migrant Health Workshop, Athens, 14-16 October 2017


Since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011, more than 4.9 million refugees are out of Syria and hosted in Middle-Eastern and North African countries. In 2015, more than 1 million refugees and migrants reached Europe through the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey. During the 1st semester of 2017, a total of 112 018 arrivals were registered in the Mediterranean with 2361 deaths recorded. In 2015, the vast majority of people entered Greece and moved northwards through the Balkans to reach Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Scandinavian countries while since 2016 most people cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats. Ninety-one per cent of the arrivals come from the world’s top 10 refugee producing countries. The journey these people undertake is perilous and puts them in increased risk of diseases and injuries. Chronic and mental health disorders are also prevalent and need appropriate access to health care and follow up, however European asylum and detention strategies are hindering this access.

Understanding of refugee and migrant health needs and the human rights approach is essential for a better comprehension of this multi-causal problem.

Providing evidence based information for designing, applying and assessing actions in public health interventions, which includes migrants and refugees, is necessary/of paramount for targeting this vulnerable population.

EAN-MediPIET Joint Module

In October 2017, after the very successful workshop from last year and under the request of many EAN members, EAN in collaboration with the Mediterranean Programme for Intervention Epidemiology Training (MediPIET) organized the 2nd workshop on Refugee and Migrant Health in Athens, Greece, which was hosted by the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO). Thirty two participants listened, exchanged, debated and discussed with 17 speakers coming from universities, NGO and UN/European organizations during this 3-day workshop (14-16/10) that was particularly inspired by the recent and continuous influx of refugees in Europe and its surrounding countries.

The workshop aimed to provide an understanding of refugee/migrant-related health issues, to give an overview of surveillance systems, health screening programs and their challenges and, migrant health policies and recommendations within the EU and neighboring Mediterranean countries. The contents included a broad range of topics, such as physical, mental and reproductive health, detention, torture and sexual violence, surveillance and health screenings, access to health and economic benefits, citizens’, refugees’ and volunteers’ perspectives on the crisis, cultural understanding of health needs and international response policies. The last day was dedicated to a field visit to two refugee camps in Athens where a rapid assessment exercise of the needs of refugees hosted in the camps was carried out.

Participants enjoyed the workshop, learned and networked with other colleagues. They actually suggested that the workshop should be repeated again. Many participants expressed their interest to participate in the development and public announcement of a common statement and recommendations that were formulated during the plenary discussion at the end of the second day.

 “Awesome workshop! Enjoyed it a lot! God mix between presentations from social sciences and epidemiology” - workshop participant

Objectives of the workshop

This workshop was conceived as an exchange of experiences among professionals working in the field of Migrant and Refugee health from EU and non-EU countries with the aim of improving knowledge and strengthening the network of scientists working in this field

At the end of the workshop participants should have gained:

  • An overview of the socio-demographic and health profile of refugees/migrants in the Mediterranean and in Europe
  • An understanding of refugee/migrant related health issues, including cultural and gender related aspects
  • An insight on Mediterranean and EU migrant health policies and recommendations, and citizen’s perceptions on refugees
  • An overview of surveillance systems and health screening programs in EU & Non-EU countries.

The presentations and the videos of the workshop (pdf version) can be found in the links below:

Presentations: https://sites.google.com/site/refugeemigrantworkshop2017/home

Videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6azypwc3vS0&list=PLBZz11GlhJtWYMR7taWYJo0DQzHKFMcET



Day 1
8:30-9:00 Registration - Coffee
9:00-9:30 Welcome - Introduction

Speakers: KEELPNO Representative, EAN Board Member and MediPIET Representative

9:30-10:30 Refugee crisis in Europe in 2015-2017:

 ·  Setting the stage: Definitions and the Right to Health of Migrants and Refugees

SpeakerMs Roumyana Petrova-Benedict, International Organization for Migration, Belgium


·  Overview of the socio-demographic and health profile of refugees/migrants in the Mediterranean and in Europe:

Speakers :

Italy : Dr Maria Grazia Dente & Dr Silvia Declich, National Center for Global Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità

Lebanon : Dr Ghada Abou Mrad, Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon

Greece: TBC, Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), Greece 

10:30-11:00 Coffee break
11:00-11:30 Physical and mental health needs of transiting refugees & migrants in Europe, 2015-2017

Speaker: Dr Iro Evlampidou, Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgium

11:30-12:30 Mental health needs of refugees & migrants

Speaker : Ms Aliki Meimaridou, Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgium

12:30-13:00 Reproductive health and sexual violence in refugees & migrants

Speaker: Ms Lotte De Schrijver, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Ghent University, Belgium

13:00-13:30 Injuries and torture in migrants  & refugees

Speaker: Mr Manoli Kokkiniotis,  Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgium

13:30-14:30 Lunch break


 Setting up a surveillance system for refugee/migrant health

Group work

15:30-16:00 Coffee break
16:00-17:00 International  Response and Policies addressed to Migrant Health in the current Mediterranean context


·  Dr Isabel de la Mata, DG Health and Food Safety, European Commission, Belgium (Skype presentation)

·  Dr Maria Grazia Dente & Dr Silvia Declich, National Center for Global Health , Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy

·  Dr Evangelos Tsilis, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Greece

·  Ms Roumyana Petrova-Benedict, International Organization for Migration, Belgium

17:15-17:30 Discussion and recommendations on topics of DAY 1
17:30 END of Day 1


Day 2
8:30-9:00  Coffee
9:00-9:30 Access to health care in EU and Mediterranean countries for refugees & migrants

Speaker: Dr Marie Dauvrin,  Institute of Health and Society, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium

9:30-11:00 Refugee/Migrant health in EU & Non-EU Mediterranean countries: information from surveillance & health screening systems and access to healthcare


·    Greece: Prof Takis Panagiotopoulos, Department of Child Health, National School of Public Health, Greece

·    Serbia: Dr Dragana Plavsa, Institute of Public Health, Serbia

·    Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM): Vladimir Mikikj, Institute of Public Health, FYROM, & Prof Vesna Velikj Stefanovska, Institute of Epidemiology and Biostatistics with Medical Informatics, University St. Kril and Metodij, FYROM

·    Jordan: Dr Mohammad Hussein Mohammad Abu Khadair, Ministry of Health, Jordan

·    Italy: Dr Silvia Declich & Dr Maria Grazia Dente, National Center for Global Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Italy

11:00-11:30 Coffee break
11:30-12:10 Citizens’ and refugees’ perspectives on the crisis

·    EU citizens’ perception on refugees and refugees’ voices

Speaker: Ms Sania Haq, Head of Research, Audience Net, UK


·    The volunteers’ perspective

   Speaker: Dr Sophie Gedeon, Doc Mobile – Medical Help!, Greece

12:10-12:30 The economic benefits of financing refugee and migrant health

Speaker: Dr Ursula Trummer, Head of Center for Health and Migration, Austria

12:30-13:00 Cross-cultural understanding of health needs - cultural mediation

Speaker: Dr Adil Qureshi, University Hospital Vall d'Hebron, Spain

13:00-13:30 Migrant & refugee health in detention facilities

SpeakerDr Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Sweden

13:30-14:30 Lunch break
14:30-15:30 Health screenings/health checks of refugees/migrants in destination countries

Group work


15:30-17:00 World coffee: “Challenges and prospects in the monitoring, prevention and management of refugee/migrant health in EU and the Mediterranean in 2017”

(in groups) followed by plenary discussion and recommendations

17:00-17:15 Closure
  DAY 3 (optional)
09:00-09:30 Rapid risk assessment in refugee camps – 10 priorities

Speaker: Dr Iro Evlampidou, Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgium

09:30-12:30 Field visit to refugee camps and exercise (visit to 2 refugee camps)
13:00-14:00 Lunch break
14:00-16:00 Feedback from the field visit and closure