Migrants' pathways to health care: access barriers and patterns of resilience and mutuality

Brigit Obrist van Eeuwijk (University of Basel)
Christiane Falge (University of Bremen)
Roos Willems (University of Antwerp)
Brigit Obrist van Eeuwijk (University of Basel), Christiane Falge (University of Bremen), Roos Willems (Catholic University Leuven, Belgium)
Andrea Kuckert (Amsterdam School of Health Professions), Juan Muela Ribera (Independent University of Barcelona), Alexander Rodlach (Creighton University), Piet van Eeuwijk (University of Zurich)
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The use of the terms "culture" and "ethnicity" in explanatory models of health institutions have shown to result in a reduction of migrants' access to health care, because health providers fail to integrate mutuality, interdependence, reciprocity and sharing in their work with migrants.

Long abstract:

The increasing heterogeneity of contemporary societies as a result of transnational migration comes with increasing structural inequality. Several studies indicate that migrants' inclusion into the host society and their access to health care is often constrained, which exposes them to various health risks. Research further indicates that, even though the first generation of migrants often succeeds in overcoming barriers to health care, second-generation migrants remain more vulnerable than other members of the host society. As part of their resilience against marginalisation and social disenfranchisement migrants develop creative mechanisms in addressing their health needs. They draw on and creatively adapt to different cultural systems and develop support networks and alternative health care structures aiming to overcome access barriers. Ironically, the successful use of multiple cultural systems by migrants, contrasts with the problematic use of "culture" and "ethnicity" in explanatory models of health institutions, which often reduce a lack of access to health care to a single cause, cultural difference. The emphasis on the latter blames the migrant and thereby veils actual constraints to access such as structural inequality and discrimination. Research has shown that institutionalized efforts and access models are more likely to result in improved access to health care and a better overall health of migrants when they focus on mutuality, i.e. bringing together health care providers, migrants, and their support networks. We invite paper submissions that address health issues faced by transnational migrants considering aspects such as resilience, mutuality between individuals and health care providers, and mutuality between state health institutions and non-state actors.