Migrant children's health problems, care needs, and inequalities: European primary care paediatricians' perspective
Del Torso, Stefano
Van Esso, Diego L.
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Background: Primary care paediatricians' perception of migrant children's health in Europe has not been explored before. Our aim was to examine European paediatricians' knowledge on migrant children's health problems, needs, inequalities, and barriers to access health care. Methods: European primary care paediatricians were invited by the European Academy of Paediatrics Research in Ambulatory Setting Network country coordinators to complete a web-based survey concerning health care of migrant children. A descriptive analysis of all variables was performed. Results: The survey was completed by 492 paediatricians. Sixty-three per cent of the respondents reported that the general health of migrant children is worse than that of nonmigrants, chronic diseases cited by 66% of the respondents as the most frequent health problem. Sixty-six per cent of the paediatricians reported that migrant children have different health needs compared to nonmigrant children, proper oral health care mentioned by 86% of the respondents. Cultural/linguistic factors have been reported as the most frequent barrier (90%).to access health care. However, only 37% of providers have access to professional interpreters and cultural mediators. Fifty-two per cent and 32% do not know whether one or more of the family members are undocumented and whether they are refugees/asylum seekers, respectively. Updated guidelines for care of migrant children are available for only 35% of respondents, and 80% of them have not received specific training on migrant children's care. Conclusions: European primary care paediatricians recognize migrant children as a population at risk with more frequent and specific health problems and needs, but they are often unaware of their legal state. Lack of interpreters augments the existing language barriers to access proper care and should be solved. Widespread lack of guidelines and specific providers' training should be addressed to optimize health care delivery to migrant children.