UP MS Migrant Health Programs

Dr. Erika Marek, senior lecturer at the Department of Operational Medicine, University of Pecs, as a part of her ’János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ and ‘ÚNKP-19-4 Bolyai + New National Excellence Program’ research activities, has conducted interview study among Hungarian healthcare workers together with dr. Reka Kalmar, previous undergraduate medical student (since 2019 MD). The purpose of their study was to explore how health providers’ implicit racial bias may impact Roma patients’ health according to healthcare workers’ views.

Please, find below a short summary of their study:


 This research was supported by János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The support period of this stipend is 2017/09/01-2020/08/31. „Supported by the ÚNKP-19-4 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology” and University of Pecs, Medical School, PTE ÁOK-KA [No.2017-



Dear Participants of our previous, traditional WHO Immunization Week round-tables,

Dear Colleagues, Dear Website Visitors 


The current COVID-19 Pandemic underlines the high relevance of WHO traditional program, sentencing one week of each year for the importance of population level vaccination programs.  (I would recommend you to study the last paragraph, as a very relevant hypothesis of professor Ternák’s introductory article!)  That is why even among the current challenging conditions we would like to keep the traditions and aim to provide you a virtual way of information exchange. Pls. feel welcome to study the selected scientific reviews, focusing now on the current epidemiological situation.

We – as always – would also like to turn your attention on the most vulnerable people, and you are welcome to join to the ‘Leaving no one behind in the Covid-19 Pandemic: an urgent global call to action for inclusion of migrants & refugees in the Covid-19 response’ initiative.’ (See the paper below!)

If you would like to join with a relevant paper to the list below, you are most welcome!

We do believe that in April 2021 we will meet you in person again during the WHO Immunization Week round-table at University of Pécs.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr. Istvan Szilard and the WHO Collaborating Centre’s team at University of Pécs Medical School



People on the move, whether they are economic migrants or forcibly displaced persons such asylum seekers, refugees, and internally displaced persons (hereafter called migrants & refugees), should be explicitly included in the responses to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. This global public health emergency brings into focus, and may exacerbate, the barriers to healthcare these populations face. Many migrant & refugee populations live in conditions where physical distancing and recommended hygiene measures are particularly challenging. The Covid-19 pandemic reveals the extent of marginalisation migrant & refugee populations face. From an enlightened self-interest perspective, the Covid-19 disease outbreak control measures will only be successful if all populations are included in the response. It is counter- productive to exclude migrant & refugee populations from the preparedness and response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Statements from UNCHR (https://bit.ly/39YRB7V), IRC (https://bit.ly/34pOaWE) and a joint statement from OHCHR, IOM, UNHCR and WHO (https://bit.ly/2K7usG9) also call for the rights and health of migrants and refugees to be protected in the Covid-19 response.

The Covid-19 response globally should be guided by the following recommendations from the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration & Health (https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(18)32114-7.pdf):

• Universal and equitable access to health services and to all determinants of the highest attainable standard of health within the scope of universal health coverage needs to be provided by governments to migrant populations, regardless of age, gender, or legal status.
• It is essential to recognise inclusion of mobility as key to effective health care and health systems and to shift away from the traditional structure and delivery of health systems through geopolitical borders.
• Racism and prejudice should be confronted with a zero tolerance approach. Public leaders and elected officials have a political, social, and legal responsibility to oppose xenophobia and racism that fuels prejudice and exclusion of migrant populations.

Lancet Migration and the below signatories call for:

**Urgent access to healthcare for all migrants & refugees throughout the response to Covid-19
R1. Immediate suspension of laws that limit migrants & refugees access to healthcare services and economic support programmes. This may be achieved through measures such as temporarily granting residency to migrants & refugees and suspending health care user fees. Internal migrants and those internally displaced need special focus during lockdowns, in order to ensure that these measures do not disproportionately disadvantage these populations, and that their previous lack of access to basic shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, or food is not compounded.
R2. ‘Firewalls’ to be put in place between health data and immigration authorities. To encourage access to healthcare for migrant & refugee populations, it is of utmost importance that there is separation between health access and legal status as well as immigration enforcement during this pandemic.
R3. Action beyond the nation-state level to uphold human rights and global health security. The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic cannot be defeated within borders. We urge countries to support the UNHCR’s call for US$255 million to support those living in refugee and refugee-like situations.

**Inclusion of all migrant & refugee populations in prevention, preparedness for and response to Covid-19
R1. Transfer of migrants & refugees held in overcrowded reception, transit and detention facilities to safer living conditions. There should be prioritised evacuation of the most vulnerable, such as those with underlying health conditions. Since such settings are generally overcrowded with poor sanitation and hygiene measures, the spread of Covid-19 has the potential to be rapid and devastating among affected populations and those working there.
R2. Deportations should be temporarily suspended, while asylum procedures should continue according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, with no forced return (refoulement).
R3. Urgent relocation and reunification of unaccompanied minors, who are particularly vulnerable as aid and support services to migrants & refugees are negatively affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Relocation and reunification efforts should be pursued to ensure children receive adequate fostering and care.
R4. Expedited temporary accreditation of migrants & refugees with healthcare-related degrees and qualifications to join the health and care workforce in their resident countries. With the health and care workforce in many countries stretched as never before, the workforce shortage is well documented in many migrant and refugee-hosting countries. Fast-tracking temporary accreditation of overseas degrees can help overcome this.

**Responsible, transparent and migrant-inclusive public information strategies
R1. Clear, transparent public communication is critical in pandemic response. This should include migrant populations, with a focus on linguistically and culturally appropriate information.
R2. Governments should also actively counter racism, xenophobia and discrimination that fuels prejudice and exclusion of migrant & refugee populations.
R3. An evidence-based approach should be key to communications during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The full statement on the Lancet Migration website (www.migrationandhealth.org) can be read here: https://bit.ly/3a1Zyt4
in the world.
**Please add your name and affiliation below to publicly support this statement if you are an academic, healthcare worker, public health professional or working in the field of refugee or migrant health anywhere. Please click here to register...


Scope and purpose of the WEB based conference entitled:

Health / occupational health conditions of migrant population living in rural regions


According to UN DESA, in the year of 2019, about 272 million people were estimated to be international migrants. Out of them UNHCR recorded 20.4 million as refugees and 3.5 million as asylum seekers. According to ILO nearly 60% of them, an estimated 164 million are migrant workers and a significant share of them are living in rural regions. From the point of view of the health / public health stability and security of the host countries and their economy, consistent data would be required about their health / public health and occupational health data, but there is a shortage of detailed researches. That is why in 2019 the WHO Collaborating Centre (WCC) at University of Pécs (UoP), in cooperation with WHO European Office, organized an WHO European Region level event entitled:

Migration related health/ public health challenges and needed responses – defining conditions for establishing a European level migration health database – a consensus conference. As a first follow up of the event a Task Force had been established. 

Unfortunately, health, public health and occupational health data of migrant population living / working on rural regions are also seriously missing. According to a recent report of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), migrants in rural areas face particular challenges (https://phys.org/news/2019-07-migrants-rural-areas.html) While on average migrants are more present in urban areas than in rural ones, their share in some rural villages and regions can be much higher than in a city. They do essential jobs in these rural areas, especially on farms that are in constant need of temporary work. In the same time high percent of migrants living in rural areas are at risk of poverty, are unemployed, compared to those living in cities. The precariousness and vulnerability—coupled with the important role played by migrants in sustaining certain types of agriculture in specific regions—means migrants in rural areas require special attention when designing integration policies.

The International Association of Rural Health and Medicine (IARM) in cooperation with the WHO Collaborating Centre for Migration Health Training and Research (WCC) at University of Pécs (UoP), has decided to organize and host a scientific conference addressing this highly needed topic. The main goal of this event is to bring together leading experts in rural and migrant health with the aim of providing an overview on the current situation and adopt a statement calling the attention of the international scientific community, international organizations like WHO, ILO and relevant decision makers. Considering the current COVID-19 pandemic related challenges, the event entitled:

Health / occupational health condition of migrant population living in rural regions

will be delivered in a form of web conference, using Microsoft TEAMS platform.



Additional information:

The participation is free of charge, but registration is required. Intentions for web based presentation could be signalized until 30 of September 2020 with e-mail submission to the address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Abstract of the presentation should also be submitted. Abstracts should not exceed 2500 characters (included spaces).

Date and time of the event:  29 October 2020, 09:00 – 14:00 (CET)


Program of the Health / occupational health conditions of migrant population living in rural regions

View conference abstracts

Click here to join the conference

View conference presentations





Dr. Erika Marek, senior lecturer represented our department and gave oral presentation at the 2nd International Congress of Health Workforce Education and Research organized by the European University Cyprus in Nicosia, Cyprus between 9th - 10th May 2019.

The title of the presentation: Medical students’ self-assessed level of intercultural competence: first results of a Hungarian survey.

On 26 and 27 of March 2019 the team of the Univeristy of Pécs Medical School Migration Health Programs carried out a short training on the health aspects of migration. The event was organized jointly by the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the Federal Ministry of Health of Bosnia with partial funding from Switzerland. The training was held in Bihać, the administrative center of Una-Sana Canton Bosnia.

The training was chaired by Victor Olsavszky, WHO, Aida Omanović Public Health director of Una-Sana Canton, and the Team Leader of the Department of Migration Health of the University of Pécs Medical School, Dr Sitván Szilárd, and Marina Bera Assistant Minister of Federal Ministry of Health. The training focused on the technical aspects of professionals dealing with migrants and on the differences of treating them compared to local populations.

It was highlighted by Bosina officials that Bosnia is on the reform of mental health issues and also migration is a very highly active topic, and they need help from experts who have gone through these challenges in the past.

The Department of Operational Medicine of the Medical School of University of Pécs is organising a Vaccination Roundtable event as part of the Global Immunisation Week of the World Health Organisation on 30th April, 2019.

The motto of the WHO program is "Protected Together, #VaccinesWork".

The Department is a WHO Collaborating Centre and annually takes part of the Immunization Week. The program addresses the problems of anti-vaccination movements and the recent outbreaks of Measles.

The event will take place in the Dean's Conference-Room at the Medical School of University of Pécs, from 10:30 to 14:10 30th April. The introductory address will be given by Dr. Ledia Lazeri, head of WHO Country office in Hungary. The language of the event will be predominantly Hungarian, but intentionally is bilingual along with English. 


In order to facilitate the realization of those tasks highlighted in numerous high level documents and declarations as well as acting in line with our WCC TOR, we propose that University of Pécs Medical School and its WCC, in cooperation with WHO EURO PHAME program and with the support and participation of the Government of Hungary, will organize a WHO EURO level symposium in 2019. The main goal of this event is to bring together leading experts in migrant health with the aim of working out the basic principles of a highly coherent and consistent European Migrant Health Database, as an essential tool for the ‘evidence based’ planning and development of public health and health care systems that are prepared and capable to address the new challenges.  In line with our WCC’s other tasks and capacity, we may offer to develop and run training program as well for building the necessary human resource capacity in this field.

The title of the symposium will be the following Migration related health/public health challenges and needed responses – defining conditions for establishing a European level migration health database – a consensus conference and it will be held in Pécs, Hungary between mid September and early October, 2019.

We plan to organize plenary sessions as well as workshops dealing with connected issues. During the plenary sessions we will be introduced to an overview of WHO , ECDC, DG Santé, EUPHA migrant health statements, declarations and other related documents; overview of the already existing country level migrant health databases in WHO European Region, related endowers in Hungary, and experiences in the USA (CDC); feedback from the workshops and plenary level discussion of their proposals and the Drafting Committee introduces the Proposal for establishing a European Level Migration Health Database. Discussion and adoption of the document. The parallel workshops will cover the following issues,

  • What kind of data should be collected? Data sources. (WHO, ECDC, EUPHA statements and proposals and overview of the related Member States level legislation and practices);
  • Best practices – overview of the European and non-European practices, checking compatibility possibilities – composing suggestions;
  • IT conditions for establishing a Europewide compatible and accessible database;
  • Conditions for transferable migrant health data; legal, human rights and personality protection aspects – the way how to cope with them;
  • How the necessary human resource could be provided/built – principles and structure of the training program;

The participation on the conference will be free of charge for a number of participants; registration will be open by the end of the year. For more information, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last December, I participated in a ShipCon Training in Palermo titled ICT SKills in Education funded by Erasmus plus staff mobility program. The training lasted for 5 days and during that we developed three projects in groups. I got the opportunity to lead one of these project groups which was a great challenge, however the assigned tasks proved to be very useful. One of the tasks was to solve an HR related matter by using Edmodo and online platforms only. The second one was to create a video with Filmora video editor about our daily work and free time in Palermo, and finally, we learned how to develop a structured folder for an EU project with the support of Dropbox. All these tools are very engaging, creative and can be used effectively in order to save time as well. We were also introduced to a Belbin test that let us form project groups with a mixture of people with different sets of skills ensuring the effectiveness of our groupwork.

We have not only participated in the course, but made fruitful connections as well. We also visited monuments in the city of Palermo in our free time and took part in an organized trip to Erice. As I stayed a weekend longer I also had a chance to visit Mount Etna and experience the ongoing eruptions. 

Nikolett Arnold, our staff member has been elected to the Board of European Network of Intercultural Elderly Care (ENIEC) last year.

As an ENIEC member, the first board meeting of the year took place on 16-17 January in Tallinn. During the meeting not only the organization of the next Annual Meeting in Bristol had been discussed, but we also met stakeholders in the City of Tallinn in the hope of future collaboration with Estonian institutes, such as the Estonian Institute of Population Studies, the Integration Foundation and the Social Welfare and Healthcare Deaprtment. Our Estonian-Finnish colleague, Siiri Jakson helped us and coordinated the meeting.

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