Health and Migration Seminar: “Real and imaginary infection risks in global migration”

medical setting/health

Event Date

Hybrid (Zoom & Andrews Room 2203 SS&H)

Speaker: Dr. Amir M. Mohareb

Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital

Abstract: Infectious diseases have long been used as a pretext to prevent human migration. In the
US, refugees with “communicable diseases of public health significance” are inadmissible for
resettlement. However, this designation is sometimes employed without scientific or public health
rigor, and it can serve as a pretext for exclusionary immigration policies. HIV and COVID-19
serve as recent and salient examples. In contrast, real risks of infection can develop, particularly
as asylum seekers and migrating people travel through irregular routes of migration, are exposed
to hostile natural elements, lack preventive health services and immunizations, and live in close
quarters in detention centers or informal encampments. The objectives of this presentation are to
understand the historical basis for exclusionary migration policies predicated on the risk of
communicable diseases; to reason under which circumstances such policies demonstrate public
health benefits; and to develop a framework for mitigating infection risk associated with global


Watch the video of the conference here