Reception and healthcare services for marginalised and undocumented migrants face the challenge of Covid-19
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Department of Health Services and Epidemiological Observatory, Health Authority, Sicily Region 2) Complex Unit of Clinical Pathology, Department of Radiological Sciences and Services, Sant’Antonio Abate Hospital, Health Authority, Palermo, Trapani Province, Trapani, Italy
Prospettive ricerca-socio economica sas, via Bernardino Galliari 10 bis, 10125, Turin, Italy
Centre for International & Intercultural Health - APS, Via di Corticella 303/3, 40128, Bologna, Italy
Epidemiology Unit, ASL TO3 Piedmont Region, Via Sabaudia, 164, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy
Regional Health and Social Care Agency, Emilia-Romagna Region, Viale Aldo Moro, 21, 40127 Bologna, Italy
University of Turin, Health and Social Care Agency Emilia-Romagna Region, University of Turin, Regione Gonzole 10, Orbassano (TO), Italy
University of Turin, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, Lungo Dora Siena 100, Turin, Italy
Ministry of Health, Directorate-General for Prevention, 00144 Rome, Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A399
Background and Objectives:
There is scant evidence on the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19 on undocumented migrants living in Italy. Therefore, a qualitative study was conducted in two Northern-Italy Regions (Piedmont and Emilia Romagna).

The research consisted of 10 focus groups and 37 semi-structured interviews, with professionals of public and private social services who work in the reception and healthcare system, and the latter with the migrants themselves, especially the undocumented.

Lights and shadows emerge from the results. Due to precarious housing and working conditions, migrants had a higher infection risk, however lockdown measures in reception facilities might have had a protecting role.The interruption of care pathways led to the worsening of health problems, although the contact with healthcare services for COVID-19-related issues permitted the diagnosis of previously unrecognised pathologies.Uncertainty, fear, social withdrawal, and the crisis of the migratory project increased mental pathologies/struggles. Furthermore, the loss of work, the increased burden in essential jobs, and the reduced protection of undocumented migrants led to further impoverishment and, consequently, increased health risks.Migrants highlighted the importance of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social determinants of health, especially on working and housing conditions, rather than directly on health.

Despite the initial impossibility of accessing health and social reception services, due to the lockdown, and the lack of specific operating protocols to manage undocumented migrants and, more broadly, marginalised communities, both public and private social sectors, and the community have activated proactive outreach actions towards migrants, in a logic of integration and subsidiarity. Under crisis conditions, social and health services have found the ability to reorganize themselves and adapt to the needs of these more fragile targets. How much of these efforts will be capitalized and “stabilized” in the post-pandemic?

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