Immigrants make up over 10% of the resident population in Spain, and it has become a major immigration country in Europe. There are an estimated 600,000 undocumented immigrants in Spain, one of the highest rates in the EU, despite favorable processes for regularization, naturalization and family reunification. In Spain, economic migrants are the group that has received the most attention from a policy and research perspective.
People who migrate are healthy contributors to society, but the experience of migration impacts health on multiple levels, in terms of entitlements to health, access to health care, risk of infectious diseases and chronic conditions, exposure to poor working and living conditions, and levels of income. Immigrants tend to face barriers to using health services due to legal and administrative issues, discrimination or mistreatment, linguistic differences, unfamiliarity with the health system, and cultural health beliefs or practices. Also, health systems and health providers often lack the tools necessary to engage immigrant populations in health promotion, education, prevention and treatment services. Despite these challenges, EU member states and health systems must support immigrants’ right to health.