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Keywords:

  • Infants;
  • children;
  • migrants;
  • refugees;
  • immigration;
  • health care services;
  • infections;
  • mental health

Political turmoil, military conflicts and other international sociological upheavals are causing significant immigration of large numbers of people, including infants and children, in Europe. Many of these young migrants are refugees. These youngsters have significant health needs, and medical conditions (such as infectious diseases) and mental health problems due to their previous stressful situations and the difficulties that they often experience while settling, even temporarily, into their new environments. Government authorities must screen for transmissible diseases and ensure that vaccine-preventable infections are adequately covered. Paediatricians must give the best possible care for these children and act as their advocates. This can be enhanced by collaborating with national and international paediatric societies and with international non-government agencies. This problem is not confined to Europe; world-wide, it occurs on a massive scale and causes huge burdens for poorer countries that have serious difficulties in coping with the extra financial, personnel and infrastructure needs imposed by massive, uncontrolled migration of populations that are often unhealthy and inadequately nourished. However, this should not be used as a pretext to deny safe refuge to children and their families who need it.

Conclusion: Massive movements of infant and child immigrants and refugees across European borders over recent years have brought challenges to paediatricians because of the needs for the health and medical and mental health care of these young people. Paediatricians have an important role in their care and by acting, wherever possible, as their advocates. This is a massive problem, world-wide, in which paediatricians can have a potentially significant positive impact.