Health Security in the Context of Forced Migration

  • Maike Voss
  • Katharina Wahedi
  • Kayvan Bozorgmehr


This chapter describes the consequences of securitising health in the context of forced migration. To begin with, we outline the evolution of the concept of health security and its narrow focus on cross-border infectious disease control. The concept of universal health coverage and the right to health are introduced and differences between global health security and universal health coverage illustrated. We then describe how forced migrants’ health has been securitised, using examples from various countries and time periods, and elaborate negative and positive consequences of the securitisation process, especially with respect to forced migrants’ access to universal health coverage. Despite fundamental and essential differences between health security and universal health coverage, there is potential for a synergetic approach that would benefit both host populations and migrant’s health. Necessary conceptual shifts include a mutual foundation of the right to health and a more comprehensive understanding of global health security. We further call for the de-securitisation of migrants’ health, for inclusive health-care systems and effective and cost-effective approaches to infectious disease control.


Health security Universal health coverage Securitisation Forced migration Right to health 



European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


Global health security


Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome


International health regulations


Non-communicable disease


Sustainable Development Goal


Universal health coverage


United Kingdom


United Nations Development Program


United States


World Health Assembly


World Health Organization


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maike Voss
    • 1
  • Katharina Wahedi
    • 2
  • Kayvan Bozorgmehr
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Global Issues DivisionGerman Institute for International and Security AffairsBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of General Practice and Health Services ResearchUniversity Hospital HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  3. 3.Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research, School of Public HealthBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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