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Home News Centre National Press Releases 2011 Press Releases ›  HPA publishes second migrant health report

HPA publishes second migrant health report

20 December 2011

The Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) second report on Migrant Health, and the first UK-wide report is published today (Tuesday, 20 December).


The report brings together infectious disease surveillance information with a focus on non-UK born populations. It is estimated that in 2010 approximately 12% of people living in the UK were born abroad, an increase from 8% in 2001. Most people migrating long-term to the UK plan to study or work and will have a similar range of health concerns to UK born residents in the same age bracket. However, a small proportion of the non-UK born residents bear the greatest burden of infectious disease reported in the UK. For example, in 2010, 73 per cent of TB cases reported in the UK, almost 60 per cent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV, and 80 per cent of hepatitis B infected UK blood donors were born abroad.

Furthermore health risks to non-UK born residents can continue for many years after arrival in the UK. For example, 77 per cent of non-UK born TB cases in 2010 were diagnosed two or more years after arrival in the UK, and half of non-UK born men who have sex with men with a newly diagnosed HIV infection between 2001 and 2010 had probably acquired their infection within the UK.

In addition, UK residents travelling to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin are the main risk group for some travel-associated infections diagnosed in the UK such as malaria and enteric fever. Where information was available 61 per cent of malaria cases reported in the UK in 2010 and 87 per cent of enteric fever cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were in non-UK born residents who travelled abroad to visit friends and relatives. Both of these diseases are preventable through pre-travel advice and appropriate prophylactic measures.

Dr Jane Jones, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the Travel and Migrant Health Section at the HPA said “The majority of non-UK born residents do not have infectious diseases but some are at higher risk than UK born residents because of their exposures and their life experiences prior to, during and after migration. Timely identification of risk and diagnosis of infection can improve health outcomes. Primary care practitioners in particular play a vital role in identifying people at risk and ensuring appropriate management, and it is important to remember that risk to non-UK born residents does not end on arrival in the UK.”

Several of the public health recommendations made in the first HPA report on migrant health published in 2006 are repeated in this update. These include the need for non-UK born communities to have access to culturally competent and language supported services and the importance of a co-ordinated approach to assessing a new migrant patient’s health needs, including improving the collection of country of birth information as this is an indicator of possible risk. One of the recommendations in the 2006 report was for the development of resources to support practitioners in managing the health issues of non-UK born patients. In response to this recommendation, the HPA developed an online Migrant Health Guide that was launched in January 2011. This freely available resource, which is organised on a country-specific basis, aims to assist primary care practitioners caring for people who have come to live in the UK from abroad. Increasing numbers of health professionals are accessing the Migrant Health Guide; in November 2011, there were over 3,000 visits to the site.

Dr Jones added “By supporting UK practitioners to recognise and appropriately manage the health needs of non-UK born people, the HPA aims to contribute to the reduction of the burden of infectious disease in the populations that are at highest risk.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. The Migrant Health Report is based on surveillance from 2005 – 2010, to check the latest data go to http://www.hpa.org.uk/Publications/InfectiousDiseases/TravelHealth/1112Migranthealth/
  2. Migrant Health Guide http://www.hpa.org.uk/MigrantHealthGuide/ 
  3. For more information please contact the HPA press office at Colindale on 020 8327 7901 or email
    colindale-pressoffice@hpa.org.uk. Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 020 8200 4400.

Last reviewed: 20 December 2011