• Reducing burden from respiratory infections in refugees and immigrants: a systematic review of interventions in OECD, EU, EEA and EU-applicant countries.

      Lambert, Jan-Frederic; Stete, Katarina; Balmford, James; Bockey, Annabelle; Kern, Winfried; Rieg, Siegbert; Boeker, Martin; Lange, Berit; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC, 2021-08-26)
      Background: Respiratory diseases are a major reason for refugees and other immigrants seeking health care in countries of arrival. The burden of respiratory diseases in refugees is exacerbated by sometimes poor living conditions characterised by crowding in mass accommodations and basic living portals. The lack of synthesised evidence and guideline-relevant information to reduce morbidity and mortality from respiratory infections endangers this population. Methods: A systematic review of all controlled and observational studies assessing interventions targeting the treatment, diagnosis and management of respiratory infections in refugees and immigrants in OECD, EU, EEA and EU-applicant countries published between 2000 and 2019 in MEDLINE, CINAHL, PSYNDEX and the Web of Science. Results: Nine of 5779 identified unique records met our eligibility criteria. Seven studies reported an increase in vaccine coverage from 2 to 52% after educational multilingual interventions for respiratory-related childhood diseases (4 studies) and for influenza (5 studies). There was limited evidence in one study that hand sanitiser reduced rates of upper respiratory infections and when provided together with face masks also the rates of influenza-like-illness in a hard to reach migrant neighbourhood. In outbreak situations of vaccine-preventable diseases, secondary cases and outbreak hazards were reduced by general vaccination strategies early after arrival but not by serological testing after exposure (1 study). We identified evidence gaps regarding interventions assessing housing standards, reducing burden of bacterial pneumonia and implementation of operational standards in refugee care and reception centres. Conclusions: Multilingual health literacy interventions should be considered to increase uptake of vaccinations in refugees and immigrants. Immediate vaccinations upon arrival at refugee housings may reduce secondary infections and outbreaks. Well-designed controlled studies on housing and operational standards in refugee and immigrant populations early after arrival as well as adequate ways to gain informed consent for early vaccinations in mass housings is required to inform guidelines.