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Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2017 Feb;14(2):153-159. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201608-592PS.

Respiratory Health in Migrant Populations: A Crisis Overlooked.

Author information

1 Pulmonary Sciences, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado.
2 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.
3 Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California.
4 Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
5 Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, Kentucky.
6 Alcohol Research Group, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California.
7 Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
8 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, Denver Health Medical Center, University of Colorado, and Anschutz Medical Center, Denver, Colorado.
9 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Medicine, New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care Services, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and.
10 Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Disorders, Department of Medicine and Department of Pharmacology, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center and Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Louisville, Kentucky.


The crisis in the Middle East has raised awareness about the challenges encountered by migrant populations, in particular, health-care access and delivery. Similar challenges are encountered by migrant populations around the world, including those entering the United States as refugees and/or survivors of torture as well as Mexicans and other Latin Americans crossing the border. During the 2016 International American Thoracic Society Meeting held in San Francisco, California, a group of researchers and health-care providers discussed these challenges at a minisymposium devoted to the respiratory health of migrants. The discussion focused on the increased incidence of airway diseases among individuals migrating to more developed countries, the problems created by sleep disorders and their implications for cardiovascular and mental health, the challenges inherent in the control of infections in refugee populations, and the problems resulting from deportation. The group also discussed the potential impact of novel strategies made available by Internet-based technologies and how these strategies could be deployed to support worldwide efforts in assisting migrants and refugees, even in countries that find themselves in the direst circumstances. These presentations are summarized in this document, which is not meant to be exhaustive, but to improve awareness about the challenges confronted by migrants and their host nations regarding respiratory health-care access and delivery, and about the need for adequate investment of resources to better define these challenges through research and for the development of efficient strategies for intervention.


asthma; deportation; lung; refugees; sleep

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