New Perspective on Migration

Author: Michelle Russell       

An inaugural conference in Europe flips the switch on travel health, traditionally ‘a rich man’s practice.’

When the inaugural International Conference on Migration Health launches in Rome in October, a travel health society will put a spotlight on the world’s neediest travelers.

The 1–3 Oct. event seems a natural fit for the conference organizer, the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM). But that’s until you learn travel medicine has “traditionally been kind of a rich man’s practice,” according to ISTM Executive Director Diane Nickolson.

“It started becoming fairly clear, I don’t know, maybe 10, 15 years ago, that migration, specifically forced migration, has been increasing and is something that really not only impacts the traveler — the migrant, the refugee — but also the host community in many different ways,” Nickolson told Convene.

The United Nations reported late last year that an estimated 258 million people live in a country other than their country of birth.

October’s event will feature speakers from around the world with sessions on topics ranging from “Setting Pediatric Migrants Up for Long Term Success” to “Vaccination Issues Along the Migration Pathway: Accomplishments and Challenges.”

ISTM previously convened a special interest group on refugees and migrants and had sessions on the topics at its conference last year in Barcelona. But it became clear, Nickolson told Convene, that more needed to be done.

ISTM’s conference is not the only migration focus recently seen in the business events industry.

The International Border Management and Technologies Association (IBMATA), for example, was formed late last year to launch events and create a year-round community of professionals who safeguard the comings and goings of people around the globe.

Additionally, the SIAARTI (Italian Society for Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care) Academy was held in May on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is at the epicenter of the European migrant crisis. The medical meeting — which trains young physicians — featured a maxi simulation that included a sinking boat with “migrant” passengers to be rescued.

Look for more on ISTM and IBMATA in the September issue of Convene.

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