Migrant and Refugee Health

Mission of the ISTM Migrant and Refugee Health Interest Group

Migrants make up an important group of international travelers (VFR travelers) and are increased risk for several infectious diseases and travel related conditions. This health disparity is due to several factors including; a higher prevalence of infections acquired in their countries of origin, low uptake of pre-travel health advice and preventive interventions, increased risk behavior and exposure during travel and low awareness in health care providers of the health issues of this population or how to best address them. The health encounter with the travel medicine provider, either before or after travel, provides an opportunity to promote the health of this population through updating routine and travel related vaccinations, screening for prevalent diseases and other preventive measures.

The ISTM Migrant and Refugee Health Interest Group aims to:

  1. Promote and raise awareness among travel medicine providers of the range of health issues in the migrant population (acquired in their countries of origin prior to arrival or during travel).
  2. Develop strategies and tools of how to best address the health issues of the migrant population and encourage using the travel health encounter as an opportunity for health promotion of this population.
  3. Collate written materials addressing the most important health issues of immigrants and VFR travelers and develop new materials as deemed necessary to educate practitioners. Provide access to these documents on the ISTM website.
  4. Promote the development of novel interventions, tools and methods of how to engage the VRF traveler in the pre-travel encounter.
  5. Promote research on important health issues of VFR travelers and other migrants in order to decrease health disparities.


Council Structure

The Migrant Interest Group is governed by a Steering Council elected by its membership. The Steering Council consists of seven (7) members, with a Chair, Chair-Elect, and Past Chair. It is anticipated that subcommittees will be formed from within the group members, and the elected council may appoint cooperating members. The Group Chair will report to the ISTM Executive Board.

Current Council
Masatoki Adachi (Japan), Chair
Christina Greenaway (Canada), Past Chair
Francesco Castelli (Italy) Council member
Jose Flores (Mexico), Council member
Rafael Lefkowitz (United States of America), Council member
Harunor Rashid (Australia), Council member

Welcome to the Migrants and Refugees Health Interest Group page on the ISTM website. We will be updating this page regularly and hope you will visit often. The Interest Group invites all ISTM members who are interested in the travel health of migrant and other mobile populations to join our group. There is no cost to join, and it's easy. Click here to join or for more information.

The focus of the Support Group is to address issues pertaining to travel health influences and implications related to migrants and other mobile populations.

Top of page

The Migrant and Refugee Health Interest Group Charter

  • Develop Migrant and Refugee Health within ISTM;
  • Develop and propose initiatives to increase the membership of Migrant and Refugee Health practitioners within the ISTM; and,
  • Propose specific programs or initiatives to serve the interest of Migrant and Refugee Health.

If you have suggestions regarding the activities listed below or new ideas for the Interest Group to consider, please direct your comments to Chris Greenaway. We look forward to hearing from you!

Top of page

ISTM Migrant Interest Group Organizational Structure and Leadership Plan

Basic Operational Structure

The ISTM Migrants Interest Group will be governed by a Steering Council elected by its membership. The Steering Council will consist of 7 members, one of which will be Chair, one Chair-Elect and three Council Members. It is anticipated that subcommittees will be formed from within the group members, and the elected council may appoint cooperating members. The Elected Steering Council will need to fine tune the process once elected, including developing policies for vacancy of positions. The Group Chair will report to the ISTM Executive Board.

Steering Council Membership

  • Seven members
  • The council members must represent different world regions and at a minimum three continents must be represented. A minimum of 2 seats in the Council will be reserved for ISTM members from Africa, Asia or Latin America
  • Interest Group membership may be multi-disciplinary.
  • Interest Group members must be full ISTM Members.
  • Members seek participation out of genuine interest in the Group and its initiatives.
  • Potential council members are required to present their CV and a written vision statement. This application need not be proposed and seconded and can be self declared on advertisement of the open position.
  • Members and Officers serve terms of two years, with a limit of two terms in succession.
  • Approximately one third of members are elected every two years to allow for continuity.

Steering Council Officers

  • Two officers: Chair and Chair Elect, each serving for a two year term.
  • Chair Elect becomes Chair at end of term
  • Immediate Past Chair remains on Council as Ex-Officio (non-voting) Member for 1 two-year term.

Election of Steering Council Members and Group Officers

  • A call for nominations will be sent to all members of the Group, with a deadline date to submit application forms to the ISTM Secretariat. This time frame is anticipated to be 3 weeks or more.
  • The Group Members will elect the initial Chair, Chair-Elect and Steering Council Members. After the first election, the Chair-Elect will succeed the Chair.
  • For future elections, a 3 Person Nominating Task Force will be appointed by the Steering Council to review applications, ensure completeness and eligibility to run, and construct the final ballot to ensure regional representation. Note the Nominating Task Force Members will not be eligible to run in the election. One ISTM leader may be asked to serve on the Nominating Task Force.
  • Electronic ballots will be distributed. Only members of the Group will be eligible to vote for the Steering Council. The voting time frame is anticipated to be 4 weeks or more.

Top of page

Migrant and Refugee Health Interest Group Activities

The Interest Group works to define and understand the travel health influences and implications related to migrants and other mobile populations. Activities recognize and reflect the role played by migrants in the area of travel health.


  1. In many locations migrants represent the cohort of international travelers with the greatest incidence and prevalence of, travel related disease. (malaria, parasitic disease, tropical infectious diseases);
  2. In several locations migrants represent the major or significant case loads of practitioners who deal with tropical medicine or imported infections in the developed world;
  3. Migrants who visit friends and relatives represent an increasingly important travel medicine risk group; and,
  4. Increasing migration is expanding the number of physicians and health care providers involved with the care of these populations.

Through improved research and understanding of these relationships the Interest Group strives to increase the awareness and provision of relevant information to those practitioners involved with managing health issues in migrant travelers.

At the present time the Interest Group is involved in two major activities:

  • The development and delivery of a series of reference documents and updating these as needed.
  • Increasing the awareness of the importance of migrant-related travel to Visit Friends or Relatives (VFR Travel) and developing strategies to ensure that VFR travelers both seek and are provided with relevant travel health information and risk reducing interventions.