Barriers to Health: Migrant Health and Wellbeing in Belfast

13/12/2010

A new report launched on Human Rights Day identified the number one ‘health’ problem for migrants living in Belfast as access to health and social care services.

This report is the first publication of the Belfast Health Development Unit, established jointly in March 2010 by Belfast Trust, Public Health Agency and Belfast City Council to facilitate partnership working in Belfast to tackle inequalities in health.

A new report launched on Human Rights Day identified the number one ‘health’ problem for migrants living in Belfast as access to health and social care services.

This report is the first publication of the Belfast Health Development Unit, established jointly in March 2010 by Belfast Trust, Public Health Agency and Belfast City Council to facilitate partnership working in Belfast to tackle inequalities in health.

Speaking at the launch, Belfast Trust Associate Medical Director Dr Leslie Boydell said, ‘By sharing the experience of our partners cities in the project, for example Milan, Lyon, Birmingham and Lisbon, all of which have experienced much greater migration than we have here, we are learning what can be done to better address the health needs of migrants in Belfast’.

Access to health and social care services
Access to health and social care services is difficult for migrants for a number of reasons including the existence of language barriers, uncertainty about entitlement to services and how to access them, fear of discrimination and of cultural needs not being met.

Women and children have particular health needs, for example for immunisation and maternity care and they may miss out on these if they are unable to access services for all the reasons given above.

Mental health problems and dependence on drugs, alcohol or other substances are also a problem for some groups, sometimes exacerbated by the experience of migration.

Chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are more common in some migrant groups and many migrants experience social issues, such as housing and poverty.

Pictured from left: Leslie Boydell, Associate Medical Director, Belfast Trust; Mary Black, Assistant Director, PHA; Dr Jillian Johnston, Belfast Trust; Dr Ian Adamson, Belfast City Council; Lillian Vellum, Asylum Advice and Support Worker, Bryson One Stop Service for Asylum Seekers and Eileen Evason, Vice Chair, Belfast Trust.