Health of refugees and migrants from former Soviet Union countries in the Russian Federation: a narrative review

Author/s: Nataliia Bakunina, Artyom Gil, Vitaly Polushkin, Boris Sergeev, Margarita Flores, Igor Toskin, Viktoriya Madyanova, Ruslan Khalfin
Language: English
Publication Type: Scientific Report (Journal)(External)

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This narrative review was conducted to synthesize and summarize available up-to-date evidence on current health status, including both non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases, of migrants and refugees from the former Soviet Union countries in the Russian Federation. Epidemiological and sociological studies with one or more determinants of the health, as well as relevant qualitative studies characterizing risk factors, well-being indicators, and lifestyles of migrants and refugees from the former Soviet Union countries in Russia published from 2004 to 2019 in Russian and English languages were included in the review. Despite significant limitations of the available research literature in the field, some patterns in migrants’ health in Russia and issues that need to be addressed were identified. In particular, the syndemic epidemics of communicable and non-communicable diseases, additively increasing negative health consequences, including cardiovascular diseases and chronic digestive system diseases, high rates of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, respiratory diseases and a growing percentage of new tuberculosis cases among migrants from the former Soviet Union countries are all of great concern. Possibly, the burden of these co-occurring morbidities is linked to commonly reported issues among this population group, such as poor nutrition and living conditions, high prevalence of unskilled manual labour, non-compliance with sanitary norms, lack of basic vaccinations, lack of basic knowledge about safe sexual practices and risky sexual behaviour, low healthcare seeking behaviour and limited access to health care. Importantly, these findings may urge the government to increase efforts and promote international collaboration in combating the threat of infectious diseases. Additionally, it was found that migrants had higher levels of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, and those who stayed in the receiving country 5 years or more had a higher level of somatic pathology than those whose stay was less than 5 years. In order to ensure an adequate health system response and fulfil the main Universal Health Coverage principle of “leaving no one behind”, a robust monitoring system of the health status of refugees and migrants and an integrated legal framework for the standardized and more inclusive routine care for this population in Russia is urgently needed.

International Journal for Equity in Health