Lesson 3 Physical Health

Lesson 3a: Non-communicable Diseases

  • cardiovascular diseases;
  • hypertension;
  • diabetes;
  • cancer;
  • gastrointestinal diseases;
  • chronic lung diseases.

The prevalence of NCDs such as diabetes and hypertension in adults in certain low- and middle-income countries is as high as 25–35%.

  • “Immigrants in Europe have a higher incidence, prevalence and mortality rate for diabetes.”
  • “The prevalence of diabetes is usually higher among women than among male immigrants.”
  • “The prevalence of ischemic heart disease varies depending on the country or region of origin of the migrants, the country or region of destination and the length of stay.”
  • “The lower socioeconomic status was found to be one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease regardless of the country of origin.”

Characteristics of NCDs

  • require continuous care for a long time, possibly for life (e.g. diabetes) and regular treatment with a drug, medical technique or device;
  • complications requiring medical care, increased cost of health care, impact on activity and possibly reduced life expectancy;
  • possible palliative care.

Lesson 3b: Cardiovascular Health Issues

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now the leading contributor to disability-adjusted life years lost worldwide.
  • CVDs, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases are the four key NCDs highlighted by WHO.

The risk factors differ during pre-migration and post-migration period.

Lesson 3c: Hypertension

“Blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the body’s arteries, the major blood vessels in the body. Hypertension is when blood pressure is too high”  WHO, 2021.

  • cultural and linguistic differences: health care practices, beliefs, and dietary norms may differ;
  • medical knowledge and awareness: lower levels of awareness and treatment options comparing to the general population due to lack of access to health services;
  • gender: men have higher rates of hypertension-related mortality than women;
  • work environments: excessive and prolonged exposure to heat, lack of time for rest, and inability to stay hydrated, as well as lack of disability coverage or compensation

Lesson 3d: Sexual and Reproductive Health

Why is Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) important?

For more details about this topic, visit Module “Gender related Health”!

  • It is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system.
  • It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.

Every individual has the right to make its own choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

Sexual and reproductive health services include maternal and neonatal care, access to contraception and the prevention and treatment of HIV or other sexually transmitted infections that affect both men and women.

Maternal and neonatal care is at the heart of the UNHCR's work on sexual and reproductive health.

Offers the following services:

  • access to prenatal and postnatal care;
  • access to contraception and family planning;
  • clinical management of rape and cohabitation survivors;
  • management of complications related to abortion;
  • prevention and treatment of fistula;
  • screening and treatment of cervical cancer.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

Immigrant populations are at greater risk for a missed HIV diagnosis.

  • poverty;
  • low income;
  • limited education;
  • substandard housing;
  • inadequate access to health care.
  • minimal information about new community’s resources;
  • language and cultural barriers to accessing that information;
  • social isolation;
  • transportation difficulties.