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Migrant Health

Since the early 1980s the UK has seen an increase in net immigration with growth in immigration rising from 200,000 in 1981 to more than 600,000 in 2014. There have been various reasons for this increase including international agreements, economic developments, conflicts and social change. Most documented migration in the UK since the 1990s has come from the European Union with Asian immigrants providing another sizeable contribution. In the past 5 years there has been a decrease in immigration for study and an increase in migration for work and to accompany family members.

Since 2011, the picture of migration in Europe has been changing markedly, with a growing influx of people to Europe from the Middle East, notably Syria, and sub-Saharan Africa. In the UK, in the year ending March 2015 there were over 25,000 asylum applications with the largest number coming from Eritrea (3,553), Pakistan (2,421) and Syria (2,222).  

Throughout 2015, migrants continued to arrive in Europe via Turkey and Italy, with many seeking to settle in Germany and Northern Europe. In late 2015, Scotland began to receive refugees from the conflict in Syria. While it has been reported that a large proportion migrants from the Middle East are young men, the majority arriving in Scotland are families who have been accommodated in various parts of the country.

Immigrants to Scotland and the wider EU are usually in good health, although migration renders some vulnerable to illness and injury, depending on their circumstances of travel and subsequent accommodation. The current migration brings few, if any, unfamiliar infections to Europe and there is no strong association between migration and the importation of infectious diseases that pose a serious risk to the resident population of Europe.  Those infections which are seen or predicted to occur are already seen in returning travellers or in small numbers in the resident European population.

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