Frontier Health

Taking a cue from compelling profile of social commitment emerging from a survey of young Italian doctors, whose results can be seen here, we outlined a new project known as Frontier Health.
Our action research was then moved to the field to create a constant presence of doctors and health workers prepared to support the wellbeing of the territories and host communities, as well as the foreigners themselves.

The mental and physicalhealth and well-being of everyone

The program contributes to the improvement of the health and psycho-physical wellbeing of migrants arriving or staying in our country, paying particular attention to women and minors. It promotes the development, dissemination and exchange of intervention on the territory using innovative models and tools.

“TO PROVIDE DIRECT ASSISTANCE AND PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT, DIFFUSION AND EXCHANGE OF MODELS AND INNOVATIVE TOOLS OF INTERVENTION SUPPORTING THE HEALTH OF MIGRANTS”

Frontier Health focuses on an immigration culture aimed at the mental and physical health and well-being of both the host communities and new-comers. We focus on the needs required for the dignified integration of anyone living in the country, starting from the need for knowledge and contact and also requiring the delivery of services, such as healthcare, which contribute to ensuring respect for the individual rights of all and to create a spirit of welcome, mutual acceptance, constructive exchange and enrichment of values. Providing adequate services can contribute to improving understanding, respect and integration among the diverse groups that are part of our everyday life.

The critical challenges the Program faces include:

  • pathological conditions with particular reference to mental and infectious disorders; important not so much for the number of cases or for their ‘importation’ from the countries of origin, as for the poor preparation and lack of familiarity of health workers in managing diseases, moods, and unusual social and relational conditions;
  • lack of preventive care prior to arrival;
  • physiological conditions such as pregnancy and lack of maternal-infant services, with, for example, higher perinatal mortality rates among the children of foreign immigrants;
  • social conditions, such as actual detention and prostitution, where the coerced actors are very often foreign women and men;

Activities:

  • Training of health workers (through continuous training, specific courses, seminars, conferences) in order to increase their knowledge and skills on issues related to the health of migrants and placement in the host communities, using a holistic and multidisciplinary approach. This favorw the improvement of social-welfare services and thus ensures vulnerable groups timelier access to the health system and its more effective use;
  • Activation and MANAGEMENT OF MOBILE UNITS FOR SANITARY ASSISTANCE TO MIGRANTS aimed at migrants in conditions of greater hardship and vulnerability, in partnership with local players rooted locally.

Brief description
of the program

PREMISE

 

Frontier Health is a program of the International Observatory for Health, which addresses the structural phenomenon of migration based on the consideration that Europe is often unprepared to manage these dynamics and supply social and healthcare services appropriate to the presence of different worlds, cultures, beliefs and contexts.
The Program focuses on a culture of immigration aimed at the psycho- and physical well-being of both the host communities and the new-comers themselves. We focus on the needs required for the dignified integration of anyone living in the country, starting from the need for knowledge and contact as well as the delivery of services, such as healthcare, that contribute to ensuring respect for the individual rights of all and to create a spirit of welcome, mutual acceptance, constructive exchange and enrichment of values. Providing adequate services can contribute to improving understanding, respect and integration among the diverse groups that are part of our daily lives.

PERTINENT ISSUES

The immigrant arriving in Europe is generally in good health. Before migrants even leave their homes, there is a process of self-selection whereby those with the greatest chance of migratory success and who therefore leave are healthier in mind and body. It is therefore good to think of migration medicine not in terms of illness or risk, but as an opportunity to reconsider the person as a whole (body, psyche but also culture, expectations, desires and so forth). In this program we tackle everything concerning the health of the migrant and the host communities, with a global perspective that in the era of globalization cannot be ignored. This includes the determinants of health, such as social insertion or fragility, reception policies and integration, prejudice and discrimination.

Migration medicine is the medicine of all citizens. Rethinking it is, therefore, an opportunity to rationalize and make every euro spent on public health more efficient and effective, as well as result-oriented. This is of particular importance, given the persistent conditions of limitation and reduction of health expenditure, requiring cost efficiency.
Migration medicine is also the chronicle of an encounter, first taking place on the level of need, but that gradually made us discover the need to meet on the level of culture and knowledge, sharing experiences, stimuli, and sensations.
The meeting with the foreign immigrant is one of the new moments of healthcare in Italy and Europe. Not because of the new problems or needs that have arisen but because of the way they have been propounded. We are rediscovering the import of culture, of the imprinting of one’s own society of origin, of how social conditions heavily influence the state of mental and physical health of individuals.
In addition, this provides us with an opportunity to rediscover that what we consider ‘obvious’ is not absolute, that our relationships with every patient, Italian or foreign, are original and unique in the way they are experienced, felt, and manifested. Available health data shows that the situations of exclusion spread by the services of immigrants are outdated. However, data also indicates this population’s social fragility; despite its heterogeneity; these groups show areas of health distress largely attributable to uncertain integration policies, difficulty in accessing services and cultural, relational, and communication problems.

CRITICAL CONDITIONS RELATED TO HEALTH AND MIGRATION:

  • pathological conditions with particular reference to mental and infectious discomfort; important not so much for the number of cases or for their ‘importation’ from the countries of origin, as for the poor preparation and lack of familiarity of health workers in managing diseases, moods, unusual social and relational conditions;
  • lack of preventive care prior to arrival;
  • physiological conditions such as pregnancy and lack of maternal-infant services, with, for example, higher perinatal mortality rates among the children of foreign immigrants;
  • social conditions, such as actual detention and prostitution, where the coerced actors are very often foreign women and men;

The degree of accessibility and usability of health services is a crucial issue for the health of the migrant

In general, however, the immigrant’s health profile overlaps (by type of pathological conditions) with that of the indigenous population of the same age, but is conditioned by the effect of poor living conditions present especially in the early stages of immigration in our country.
In any case, as regards immigrants, recent data speak of: psychological and neuro-vegetative discomforts, upper respiratory tract diseases (unheated and overcrowded houses), gastrointestinal disorders (inadequate diet), dermatological diseases.
The degree of accessibility and usability of health services is therefore of crucial importance for immigrants’ health, with accessibility mainly depending on the laws in force, and usability on the services “cultural” ability to adapt their responses to the needs of new users. It should also be stressed that both accessibility and usability strongly depend on the availability of health personnel prepared to deal with all the aspects mentioned earlier. And it is precisely within this context that the Frontier Health Program is placed.
We therefore believe that it is time to abandon the logic of emergency and adopt evidence-based programming (needs, resources, skills, critical issues, user profiles, etc.).

PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM

The Program contributes to the improvement of health and the psycho-physical wellbeing of migrants arriving or staying in our country, with particular attention paid to women and minors, promoting the development, dissemination and exchange of models and tools of innovative intervention.

AIMS

  • To promote in Italy the development, dissemination and exchange of models and tools of innovative intervention to support the health of migrants and host communities (i.e. through frontal and distance learning, exchanges of good practices, and new research models).
  • To improve access to health and psychological care for migrants in Italy, with particular focus on the psycho-physical health of migrant women, minors and unaccompanied minors, in the initial reception and integration phase.

ACTIONS

  • Training of health workers (continuous training, specific courses, seminars, conferences) to increase their knowledge and skills on issues related to the health of migrants and integration in the host communities, using a holistic and multidisciplinary approach that favors the improvement of social-welfare services and guarantees that vulnerable groups have more timely access to the health system and its more effective use;
  • Creation of a SMARTPHONE AND TABLET APPLICATION (called AMICA – Migrant’s Friendly Health Record), integrated with the technological platform already developed and used by the Italian Red Cross, able to systematize the clinical-diagnostic data of the migrant in a single technological tool and allow easy use and sharing by all the operators involved, as well as by the migrants themselves;
  • Activation and MANAGEMENT OF MOBILE UNITS FOR SANITARY ASSISTANCE TO MIGRANTS aimed at migrants in conditions of greater hardship and vulnerability, in partnership with local players.
  • Annual research and surveys on the health of migrants and host communities.

Support us

To support our program, you can donate to the OIS Association of the International Health Observatory at the IBAN bank number IT 03 L 01030 03283 000002115302 – BIC Code PASCITM1A25

If instead you are a doctor and want to contribute directly on the field,
send your suggestions to sanitadifrontiera@osservatorio-ois.com.

If you are a volunteer please download, complete and sign the form, it to sanitadifrontiera@osservatorio-ois.com