EuroNews #18 – Migrants’ Health: new perspectives from a Symposium in Amsterdam

by Giulia Gherardi, MD
PH resident University of Bologna, Italy

“Challenges and realistic Solutions to Migrant Health Burden in Europe” has taken place in Amsterdam 12 July 2019. Amsterdam Public Health-Global Health Section within the Amsterdam UMC (University Medical Centers)
has organized this symposium. The seminary started at 9:30 AM in a stunning Mennonite Church in Singel Street and ended at 6:00 PM with a celebration for the recent “full Professor title” of Professor Charles Agyemang.

In the morning three keynote lectures has been presented by leading scholars in the field of ethnicity, health and migration, including Prof. Raj Bhopal (University of Edinburgh), Prof. Allan Krasnik (university of Copenhagen) and Prof. Karien Stronks (Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam).

The first presentation has dealt with risk factors, both genetic and environmental, for diabetes type 2 among South Asian population living in Amsterdam. The result imputed, as a major risk factor, the lifestyle and the particular way of cooking at very high temperature that concentrate trans-fat acids. On the other hand, the second and the third
lectures have been broader, addressing the important role of inequalities and social determinants on migrants’ health.

They strengthened the need of improvement cultural competence of health services as well as the creation of target programs for selected population.

After the lunch, PhD students of UMC presented some thriving researches about the burden of chronic non-communicable diseases among migrant population. Some of them has been extremely specific (metabolism and molecular pattern) and mostly based on the South Asian community, which is the more representative in the city of Amsterdam.

In the end, a Round Table Discussion has been carried out with the keynote speakers. This dynamic interaction pointed out that we need a system thinking with inclusive intervention designs with community engagement and stakeholder participation in order to develop achievable and realistic solution to this issue. Professor Agyemang’ celebration has probably been the best part. To honor also is Ghanaian origin he presented a wide interesting lecture “Healthy Migrants, Healthy Society” about migration and all its aspects.

Personally, this attendance has been a pleasure. Especially noticing that UMC really cares, allocates resources and promotes research in migrants’ health, as it is seriously considered an important public health issue.