01.07.2013 Government prolongs the Migration and Health programme
Equality of opportunity. By extending the duration of the National Programme on Migration and Health to the end of 2017, the Swiss government (Federal Council) aims to contribute towards improving the health of Switzerland's migrant communities. A publication summarises the status of implementation of the programme and outlines the future aims and measures.
Improving the health opportunities of particularly vulnerable sectors of the population is one of the health-policy priorities that the Swiss government approved in the "Health2020" agenda in January 2013. The corresponding measures include the National Programme on Migration and Health, which is aimed primarily at migrants of low social status and with few health skills. These groups suffer more frequently from health problems and have greater difficulty making themselves understood when in contact with healthcare institutions, while poor health makes the integration process more difficult. The programme helps them improve their health status and health-related behaviour, and thus makes a significant contribution to Switzerland's integration policy.
Ensuring sustainable continuity
The results of the evaluation to date confirm that the National Programme on Migration and Health is focusing on the right areas. These are in line with the Federal Council's mandate, the legal framework of the integration policy, international recommendations and stakeholder concerns. The Swiss government's engagement with the health of the migrant communities is uncontested by the cantons, municipalities and other stakeholders, who justify it in terms of the continuing pressure to take action, the need for coordination at national level and the necessity of federal involvement in order to raise the visibility and legitimacy of the issue.
Sustainable continuity of programme activities has not yet been achieved in all areas. The further implementation of projects in which a great deal of effort has been invested in recent years could not have been secured without the involvement of the federal government from 2014 on. The aim now is to use the prolongation of the programme to achieve maximum possible institutionalisation of the projects already launched and to consolidate cooperation with the partners involved. The measures will continue to be implemented in close cooperation with the Federal Office for Migration, the cantons, the Swiss Red Cross and other non-governmental organisations. Among the measures planned are:
– in the field of "health promotion and prevention": continuation and expansion of the migesplus.ch platform (which provides information for migrants in their mother tongues), support for the cantons in drawing up health-promotion and prevention programmes that take migration issues into account, and coordination and implementation of measures relating to female genital mutilation.
– in the field of "training and delivery": institutionalisation of training and continuing-education tools for healthcare staff ("Interaction and Quality" e-learning tool); support for measures that improve the delivery of healthcare services to migrant communities ("Migrant Friendly Hospitals").
– in the field of "intercultural translation": promoting the training and deployment of intercultural translators; permanent establishment of the national telephone interpreting service in the healthcare sector.
– in the field of "research": inclusion of migration-specific features in national health-related data surveys and launch of research projects on topics such as healthcare delivery and access barriers.
Further information (in French and German only) is available in the publication "Nationales Programm Migration und Gesundheit. Bilanz 2008–13 und Schwerpunkte 2014–17" [National programme on migration and health. Stocktaking 2008–13 and focuses 2014–17], which summarises the status of implementation of the programme and outlines the aims and measures envisaged for the extension period.
Thomas Spang, National Programme on Migration and Health, firstname.lastname@example.org