Health care for vulnerable migrant groups2023-02-08T14:58:41+01:00

Health care for vulnerable migrant groups

NowHereLand in Times of Pandemic

Undocumented Migrants (UDM) belong to the most vulnerable groups in times of global emergency situations. COVID-19 does hit hardest the most vulnerable groups and it is important to create an evidence base to guide policy making.

The Center for Health and Migration, Vienna, has initiated a stock-taking of national regulations concerning access to social welfare, health, compulsory education, housing, and work for UDM. The initiative aims to create a landscape of policy frameworks to inform policy making and practice development.

National experts on health and migration were contacted and asked to provide information on the respective legal frameworks in the following categories: social welfare, health, compulsory education, housing, and work. A validated template is used for data collection.

Corporate Social Responsibility Project 2020

CHM and all experts are contributing with their expertise and work time on a social basis.

Undocumented Migrants in Europe and Their Access to COVID-19 Vaccination

Workshop organized by Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Institut für Orient und Asienwissenschaften, Abteilung für Südasienstudien

Bonn, DE, Oct 07, 2022


CHM’s presentation focuses on the regulations on Austrian national level regarding inclusion of undocumented migrants in Covid-19 testing and vaccination and the implementation on regional/local level. The case of the municipality of Vienna is presented to discuss measures to include UDM in practice.

COST Action CA15218 Measuring homelessness in Europe

2016 – 2020

Experts from 34 countries cooperate in the COST action CA15218 – Measuring homelessness in Europe to bring together the expertise and knowledge with regard to measuring homelessness, to tackle specific measurement challenges (such as hidden homelessness, homelessness careers and the diffusion between homelessness and migration) and to create a common European framework on measuring homelessness.

CHM is Austrian partner in the action with a focus on measuring homelessness among migrants and the role of health care settings in measuring homelessness.


We apply the Ethos light definition of homelessness as developed by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless FEANTSA 

There is robust evidence that homelessness and the associated life conditions of a homeless person may cause and exacerbate a wide range of health problems, while healthcare for the homeless is simultaneously limited in accessibility, availability, and appropriateness. This article investigates legal frameworks of health care provision, existing knowledge on numbers of homeless to be considered, and current means of health care provision for four EU countries with different economic and public health background: Austria, Greece, Poland, and Romania.

Given the growing superdiversity of European societies, more detailed data on migrant homelessness are needed. Measuring and monitoring the intersections between migration and homelessness needs a fundamental reflection and operationalisation of this diversity. In this contribution, we firstly look into the available evidence produced by (members of) the European Observatory on Homelessness (EOH) on the ways the relationship between homelessness and migration have been measured, given the important role of the EOH in bringing together the available statistics on homelessness in the EU. Secondly, we analyse the way migrant homelessness is measured in Norway, Austria, Belgium and Sweden, all relatively affluent mature welfare states, mainly receiving countries of migration.

More information is necessary to understand the impact of housing situations in the health of the populations. The Special Issue “Health, housing and homelessness” of the Internationa Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health invites authors from disciplines such as social policies, psychology, public health, medicine, economics, psychology, demography, and sociology to submit their original and review articles related to analysing the impact on health of homelessness situation and housing policies. Papers from European Union and all other countries are welcome.

Potential areas of interest include but not limited to the following: Homelessness health, Mental health and housing situation,Addictions and health in homelessness, Housing and health,Social policies and health in social exclusion, National studies, Prevention policies or interventions.

Uninsured Chinese patients in Vienna

In public health policy debates, the 2015–2016 refugee crisis made visible that even in European welfare states with (close to) universal health coverage there are specific vulnerable groups with highly limited access to health care. Among them is a population of so-called ‘undocumented’ or ‘irregular’ migrants who have no regular status of residence and falls off the radar of publicly funded health care services and thus from the public health surveillance systems. The aim of our study is to provide the first-of-its-kind evidence on the characteristics, health problems and health care needs of one such vulnerable group in Austria – Chinese migrants residing in Vienna without a regular status.

Corporate Social Responsibility Project 2018/19

Feasibility study: Electronic personal health record for asylum seekers

Feasibility study in the frame of Re-Health “Support Member States under particular migratory pressure in their response to health related challenges”, commissioned by IOM RO Brussels, 2016-2017

The feasibility study aimed to assess the acceptability, feasibility and transferability of the electronic personal health record in the framework of the Re-Health project. It focusses on the short piloting of the EPHR in eight sites located in four countries Croatia, Greece, Italy, and Slovenia.

The study builds on three components: a quantitative analysis of the use of EPHR by health care professionals and migrants, a qualitative analysis of acceptability, feasibility and transferability of EPHR and its implementation, and an assessment of characteristics of sites to contextualize data.

European Network to reduce vulnerabilities in health

CHM is founding member and academic partner in the ‘European network to reduce vulnerabilities in health’, created by Médecins du Monde (MdM)  bringing together NGOs  from 17 EU Member States and 2 EFTA/EEA countries.

The network works on gaining greater capacity and skills through mutual learning about how to improve health service delivery, patient empowerment, common data collection and advocacy.
Common goal is to contribute to decreased EU-wide health inequalities and to more responsive health systems that are better equipped to deal with vulnerability factors that increase health inequalities.

Roma & Gesundheit

Erste österreichische Studie zu Gesundheit, Gesundheitswissen und Zugang zur Gesundheitsversorgung von Roma

Ziel der Studie war die Wissensgenerierung über Gesundheitsstatus und Gesundheitsprobleme der Roma/Romnja in Österreich sowie über Barrieren beim Zugang zum Gesundheitssystem. Im Rahmen der Studie wurde eine Datenbank zum Gesundheitszustand und zur Behandlung von Roma/Romnja generiert und mit Fokus auf Gesundheitsprobleme, Behandlungsverläufe und Unterstützungsbedarf quantitativ und qualitativ analysiert. Zugangsbarrieren zur Gesundheitsversorgung und Strategien des Umgangs damit wurden in Interviews mit Vertreterinnen einer NGO, in Gruppendiskussionen mit  VertreterInnen von Roma-Vereinen, und in einem Analyseworkshop im Rahmen der 12. Roma-Dialogplattform der Nationalen Kontaktstelle im Bundeskanzleramt erhoben.


Roma Health and Inclusion – European perspectives

CHM initiated an event which was jointly organized with the Austrian Roma Contact Point at the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the COST Action “Adapting European health systems to diversity (ADAPT)” on 30.10.2015 in Vienna.

Representatives of the Austrian Federal Chancellery and the Austrian Ministries for Health and for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, international experts from seven European countries and representatives from Austrian Roma Associations discussed Roma Health and Inclusion from a European perspective.

Inputs were given by

  • Susanne Pfanner, Roma Contact Point at the Austrian Federal Chancellery, on the Roma Inclusion Policy in Austria
  • Roumyana Benedikt, Senior Migration Health Advisor at IOM Regional Office Brussels, on the IOM/European Commission  EQUI-HEALTH action on Roma Health
  • David Ingleby, Chair of the COST action, on „Adapting European health systems to diversity“: Results of the working group „Improving Roma health policies“
  • Ursula Trummer, Sonja Novak-Zezula, Ina Wilczewska and Anna Renner, Center for Health and Migration, on Lessons learnt from the  Roma Health  Study in Austria and on economic considerations of Roma health and inclusion

Health Care in NowHereland

Undocumented migrants (UDM) gain increasing attention in the EU as a vulnerable group exposed to high health risks and challenging public health. Following state-control logic, national regulations often severely restrict access to health care for UDM. At the same time, right to health care has been recognized as human right by various international instruments ratified by European countries. This opens a paradox for health care providers where no matter what they do they act aigainst one or the other regulation. This paradox cannot be resolved on a practice level but has to be managed in a way neither human rights nor national regulations are violated.

The European project entitled “Health Care in NowHereland” has produced the first-ever compilation of the policies and regulations in force in the EU 27, a database of practice models in 11 EU member states and Switzerland, and has made in-depth assessments of selected practice models and provides insights into the ‘daily lives’ of UDM and their struggle to access health care services.

Find out more about the project:

Executive Summary and Recommendations

Fact Sheet Policies: Two landscapes of NowHereland

Fact Sheet Practices: Practices of health care provision for undocumented migrants

Fact Sheet People: Undocumented migrant’s health needs and strategies to access health care

Landscape 2010


We apply the definitions of „undocumented migrant“  and  „irregular migrant“ as presented in the glossary on migration provided by IOM:

undocumented migrant: „A non‐national who enters or stays in a country without the appropriate documentation.“

irregular migrant: „A person who moves or has moved across an international border and is not authorized to enter or to stay in a State pursuant to the law of that State and to international agreements to which that State is a party.“

Recent studies show negative economic effects of excluding
irregular migrants from primary care.