Infectious disease surveillance for refugees at borders and in destination countries: a scoping review

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Background: Data on infectious disease surveillance for migrants on arrival and in destination countries are limited, despite global migration increases, and more are needed to inform national surveillance policies. Our study aimed to examine the scope of existing literature including existing infectious disease surveillance activities, surveillance methods used, surveillance policies or protocols, and potential lessons reported. Methods: Using Arksey and O’Malley’s six-stage approach, we screened four scientific databases systematically and 11 websites, Google, and Google Scholar purposively using search terms related to ‘refugee’ and ‘infectious disease surveillance’ with no restrictions on time-period or country. Title/abstracts and full texts were screened against eligibility criteria and extracted data were synthesised thematically. Results: We included 20 eligible sources of 728 identified. Reporting countries were primarily European and all were published between 1999 and 2019. Surveillance methods included 9 sources on syndromic surveillance, 2 on Early Warning and Response (EWAR), 1 on cross-border surveillance, and 1 on GeoSentinel clinic surveillance. Only 7 sources mentioned existing surveillance protocols and communication with reporting sites, while policies around surveillance were almost non-existent. Eleven included achievements such as improved partner collaboration, while 6 reported the lack of systematic approaches to surveillance. Conclusion: This study identified minimal literature on infectious disease surveillance for migrants in transit and destination countries. We found significant gaps geographically and on surveillance policies and protocols. Countries receiving refugees could document and share disease surveillance methods and findings to fill these gaps and support other countries in improving disease surveillance.




Saleh, M., Farah, Z., & Howard, N. (2022). Infectious disease surveillance for refugees at borders and in destination countries: a scoping review. BMC Public Health, 22(1).

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