HOW OUR pROJECT WAS BORN
Building health systems with improved responsiveness to NAM: a public health literacy approach
Migrants are more likely to be under-immunized — putting them at increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases circulating in Europe—and may face greater disease, disability, and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases than the host population. A report from WHO exploring the provision of immunization services to migrants and refugees in the WHO European Region highlights that less than a third of countries in the region had specific directives on immunization of migrants in their national programmes, with striking variations in policy, guidance, and implementation. The European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020 proposes that all Member States in the Region must pay special attention to migrants, international travelers, and marginalized communities to ensure their eligibility and access to culturally competent immunization services and information.
Improving coverage of low-cost vaccinations is considerably more effective compared to the high costs involved in mounting an outbreak response once transmission is established and treating individuals with vaccine-preventable diseases and their complications. Even though vaccination is offered to migrants in most EU/EEA countries, migrants’ utilization of health services providing vaccinations is not always ensured due to several types of barriers. Therefore, development of migrant-friendly strategies to increase access to vaccinations at community level and targeted interventions should be promoted to improve migrants’ vaccination uptake in line with national guidelines and recommendations.
The foundation of the AcToVax4NAM is grounded on the continuous need of the public health system to strengthen the quality of professional training of healthcare workforce working with migrants, by training all “professionals FOR health”, in order to improve their cultural sensitivity, and adapt their approaches and communication, while strengthening collaboration between all stakeholders involved in migrant’s health. The project solutions are therefore expected to improve cultural sensitivity in healthcare systems as integral to building migrant-sensitive and culturally inclusive equitable health systems, consequently increasing vaccination uptake among NAM in identified settings. In this framework, the main objective is to support above all Vaccination Literacy (VL) that is not simply knowledge about vaccines, but also about developing a system with decreased complexity to communicate and offer vaccines.