The new EU-VET CARE training opportunities review report has been released

During the last five years, about two hundred training programs on the delivery of health and social care to migrant children have been provided in Europe. Italy and Greece are the Countries with the highest number of training opportunities, followed by Germany and Switzerland. Most training programs targets the education of health and social professionals, while a few are addressed to psychologists, educators and lawyers. These are some of the main results of the review report developed within the EU-VET CARE project, “Review of existing training opportunities concerning the delivery of health and social care for migrant/refugee children including unaccompanied minors in Europe”.

Despite the continuous increase in number of migrants/refugees, in many EU countries migrants/refugee are still facing inequality of the health services. Compared to the native populations, migrant children benefit from a diverse number and extent of healthcare services: there are discrepancies in the provision of oral health, mental health and vaccination. All migrants use preventive health service in a lesser extent when compared to native populations, while they use more often primary care and hospital services. The lack of a proper communication and cultural issues are the main causes of these inequalities. Indeed, language misunderstanding, migrant’s lack of knowledge of the functioning of the health system provided by the host Country, as well as accusation of racism and lack of respect (from both sides) are the main challenges faced by professionals dealing with migrants and refugees.

The review report edited by EU-VET care staff provides an overview on the training opportunities implemented in the last five years in 28 member states of EU. The aim is to identify strength and weakness of these programs, in order to provide an innovative guideline for future development of training. In fact, the main purpose of EU-VET CARE project is to design and implement innovative vocational training on the appropriate delivery of health-care for migrant/refugee children, to enhance health promotion and access for them. Identify gaps and success of already produced program is therefore fundamental to take a step forward. To do so, an extensive research on all the existing documentation on training programs (both academic studies and unpublished reports, the so-called grey literature) has been conducted. A total of 186 training program have been found, 17% of them have been conducted in Italy and 11% in Greece.

The main target of training programs are health and social care professionals: 38% of the existing programs were made for physicians and nurses, while the 26% of the programs targeted social workers. Psychologist instead are the target of only the 9% of the programs which have been delivered in 11 out of 28 Countries (39%); moreover, only Greece and Germany have delivered more than one program. This is an important gap that need to be filled, since several studies shows that in migrant/refugee minors the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and mental health problems is significantly higher compared to the European population. Despite the need for lawyers adequately trained on international and national human right and refugee laws, only 2% of the programs targeted lawyers (4 programs: 2 in Greece, 1 in Spain and 1 in Romania). Interpreters are misrepresented as well: they were the target of 13 (7%) programs, and 12 were delivered in Switzerland. Yet, the role of interpreters is fundamental to avoid misinterpretations, since a large part of the health care professionals feel not adequately prepared to treat patient whose primary language is not English.

The issues addressed by training programs are mainly: trauma and post traumatic disorders, intercultural mediation and conflict resolution, mental health and psychological support. None (or a very few number) of training opportunities focused on racism, discrimination, human trafficking, physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation and age determination of migrant refugee children and unaccompanied minors. Still, when facing discrimination and xenophobia migrants may reduce access to public services including health care. Many migrants have escaped a past of abuse or severe discrimination linked to gender identity issues. Minor migrants face themselves with extremely heavy emotive challenges that need to be understood and addressed correctly, and this is even more important for disabled minors, but only in four Countries (Luxemburg, Slovakia, Poland and Bulgaria) health care professionals are trained on this issue.