Health needs of migrants hosted on quarantine vessels in italy during COVID-19 pandemic
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Directorate General of Health Prevention, Ministry of Health, Rome, Italy Italy
School of Specialization in Hygiene and Prevention, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy - Italian Red Cross
Italian Red Cross - National Committee, Rome, Italy Italy
Cross border Health Authorities (USMAF-SASN), Ministry of Health, Palermo, Italy Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A445
Background and Objective:
The southern coasts of Italy have been characterised by massive influxes of migrants from the coasts of North Africa for several decades. COVID-19 pandemic has increased the complexity of the management of migrants flows because of the cross-border rules and the need to contain potential SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks and not to burden local health services. To carry out quarantine at point of entries or isolation for SARS-CoV-2 infection if asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic, before reaching reception facilities, migrants were hosted in Ro-Ro vessels where also healthcare interventions were delivered by Italian Red Cross personnel with the collaboration of the Ministry of Health. This study aims at exploring which healthcare interventions were delivered on board from 17/04/2020 to 6/06/2022 in order to investigate migrants’ health needs.

All data were collected on board and registered in an informative system. A descriptive analysis of the sample and of healthcare interventions was carried out through Excel functions.

20 “Ship Missions” were conducted during the reference period. 59.684 migrants (10% female, 7% minors) were welcomed and managed in 13 quarantine vessels. 23.775 healthcare interventions were delivered, among these 27% were psychological counselling, 16% dermatological consults, 12% dressings, 9% gastrointestinal consultations, 5% otolaryngology visits, 4% orthopedics consults. The remaining ones were medical or nursing interventions (for example psychiatric or ophthalmic). Overall, only 134 (0,6%) medical transfer to hospitals or healthcare services on the ground were carried out.

Most of migrants asked for psychological support probably due to their past. Most of the other interventions delivered seem to be at the same time indicative of health needs emerged during migration route. Moreover, the presence of healthcare personnel on board, leading to promptly manage migrants’ health and healthcare needs, avoided medical transfers and the overburdening of local health services.