Online Program

Health status and access to health care of vulnerable migrants in Europe: How Doctors of the World International Networkxs Observatory of Access to Healthcare advocate for improvement at European and national levels?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pierre Chauvin, MD PhD, Department of social epidemiology, INSERM - Sorbonne Universit├ęs, UMRS 1136, Paris 75012, France
Nathalie Simonnot, International Network Head Office, Doctors of the World, Paris 75018, France

Since 2006, Doctors of the World International Network has been leading annual European multicenter surveys among users of its domestic programs, in order to describe patients’ socio-medical characteristics and raise stakeholders and European institutions awareness on their situation. Since 2008, the severe crisis in Europe has worsened vulnerable migrants’ access to health care in many countries. Populists scapegoat migrants and many governments are tempted to limit their access to care. In 2014, our survey was conducted in 24 cities in EU, plus Istanbul (Turkey).


The vast majority of the people seen in our domestic programs are immigrants (94%), undocumented (59%), and/or living in deep poverty (90%), although they have lived in the country survey for years. 2/3 had no effective (public) healthcare coverage, even in countries where such coverage exists. Half of pregnant women consulting our clinics had no access to prenatal care; 2/3 of children had no access to vaccination; 70% of patients with chronic diseases hadn’t received medical follow up before consulting our clinics.


We disseminate these data through regular press conferences at the EU level, round tables in the European Parliament and direct discussion sessions with members of the EU Parliament, and also events at national level in order to obtain changes in practices and national legislations. We plea for a full access to healthcare for all persons living in the EU, without any discrimination regarding their residence status. Some EU Member States have, at least theoretically, generous public health systems accessible to all, including undocumented migrants (Belgium, France, Italy) when others are much more restrictive. Comparative analyses help us to advocate harmonization to the highest standards rather than to the lowest in terms of access to prevention and health care, but also in terms of medical practices, to ameliorate the health of vulnerable migrants throughout EU.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Describe how a European network of domestic NGO free clinics provide data on migrant underserved populations and advocate for their free access to health care at European and national levels

Keyword(s): Immigrant Health, Universal Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a senior researcher at the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, accompanying Doctors of the World International Network since 2006 to help them build their advocacy strategy towards European institutions and EU Member States government in order to improve underserved immigrants to access to health care.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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