Refugee Crisis As a Potential Threat to Public Health

  • Raynichka Mihaylova-Garnizova
  • Vasil Garnizov
Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series A: Chemistry and Biology book series (NAPSA)


The refugee crisis in Europe continues to persist despite recent data, showing a drop in the number of refugees seeking asylum. The EU has called this as “an unprecedented displacement crisis” and has aimed at devising a comprehensive approach to tackle it, which has been widely criticized. Concerns about public healthcare aspects of the crisis have permanently entered the media and policy discourse even though no systematic association between migration and the importation of infectious diseases has been recorded. In this context, the literature has not filled the existing gap between discourse and evidence, and almost no publications with reliable empirical data exist, both thematic (epidemiology) and geographical (Eastern Europe and Bulgaria). Among the existing publications, the focus has been on TB and HIV (Odone et al., Euro J Public Health 25(3):506–512, 2015). In light of this, the aim of this research is to contribute to the debate by providing an overview of the refugee situation in Bulgaria, as a primary entry-point for refugees entering the EU. In order to achieve this, the article analyses the case of the refugee camp in city of Harmanly, close to the Bulgarian-Turkish border, and assesses the public health risks related to this specific situation. Based on a study of 128 patients with different symptoms we aim to draw wider implications about the linkages between public health and migration. The in-depth review of this specific case shows that both the probability and impact of migration on public health increases when the hosting country is relatively poor, the domestic public healthcare system is not efficient, and there is lack of trust in the government and public services. The study contributes to understanding better these risks in order to identify potential mitigation strategies in the region and the EU as a whole.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raynichka Mihaylova-Garnizova
    • 1
  • Vasil Garnizov
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Infectious DiseasesMilitary Medical AcademySofiaBulgaria
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyNew Bulgarian UniversitySofiaBulgaria

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