Xenophobia, a Danger to Public Health

On the 13th of this month we heard some serious news: Mr. Pau Fernández Monllaó, young president of the PP in Tortosa and candidate for the municipal list of that city, publicly stated that his electoral program promotes the creation of a “reception and control center for communicable diseases” because, he said, “Many immigrants when they arrive here are infected with tuberculosis, measles or diseases that have been eradicated in Spain, and we must follow a control so as not to increase the health costs they may incur later.” city ​​go through a prior health check to obtain the census.

Since then, it has been followed by statements from other PP leaders, such as Alberto Fernández Díaz, in Barcelona, ​​and the PP president in Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez Camacho, who he referred in the election campaign to Salt, an exemplary city in its attempts to be a convivial reference in our country, precisely because of the great diversity of origins of its inhabitants and the solutions they all try to arbitrate.

In Badalona, ​​Xavier Garcia Albiol has been practicing the systematic lying and defamation of the “immigrant” group for some time now, which he identifies every two by three with “crime”.

It is still surprising that none of the high state leaders of the PP has corrected the shot, nor has any press office of this party dismissed anything of what some of its Catalan candidates say, so we can conclude that this is a position clear by a party that can have a significant share of government, at different levels, from May 22, and especially in the rest of Spain. They are formulating a strong warning to the common people, regarding our health and the future of our welfare state, to the extent that they can become administrators to some degree.

In the field of the partisan struggle of this turbulent electoral period, in which the most powerful people go there with their patrimonies and their reinforced profits, while the most vulnerable have in danger everything that belongs to them (salary, housing, savings, social benefits), only a few other political leaders (few, for our taste) have placed the drift of the PP in the appropriate qualification.

As public health professionals, and based on our knowledge and experience, of what also happens in other places, and of our personal positions in favor of a community integrated in the same country that we want respectful of human rights and duties and guarantor of the welfare state for all, we consider that the relevance of what began to be said from Tortosa, and that has been spreading throughout the country, as a laboratory of what will surely move to across the state, it means breaking a border: it is a fallacy to talk about health, the good considered most precious by all citizens, as a public danger when it comes to that of “immigrants”, a which, we say, is utterly false, which is said in bad faith, and which, whoever says it,it is neither for equity among the entire population nor for solving anyone’s real problems, no matter where they come from.

A border that has been crossed without any shame, appealing to the viscerality of the people and adding firewood to the social problems that affect us all today, caused by a savage organization of the finances and economy of which the vast majority suffer the consequences.

There seems to be nothing, it seems, that the migratory balance, so intense years ago, has already stopped drastically, as it corresponds to the lack of job opportunities, and that practically only the family reunification (a basic tool for the integration and the mental and social health of groups, and therefore of society as a whole) is what is accommodating and stabilizing us demographically today.

Les dades catalanes (IDESCAT et als) i espanyoles (INE) sobre el perfil dels nouvinguts són ben concloents. We rescue a brief overview of the latter, referring to 2007 (when the situation was still on the rise), contained in the National Survey of Immigrants, conducted in Spain, which highlights that the immigrant population is mostly young, 72.3% of people under 45, 20.4% between 45 and 64 and 6.9% over 65, with more male than female presence (52% and 48%, respectively) and with a high level of education, higher overall than the native population (one in two people had completed high school and 20.5% of immigrants had a higher degree). The survey also includes its wide cultural, social, religious and economic diversity.

We had to make this introduction, before entering into what belongs to us as professionals, and which is the guarantee that allows us to talk about it publicly: being as complex, today, the world of human relations and, therefore , on the health of communities, we will focus only on what began this new attempt to ignite coexistence: there has been talk of tuberculosis, measles or diseases that have been eradicated in Spain.

About the first of them we know, from the Barcelona Public Health Agency, that “tuberculosis, a disease that was of high incidence in the mid-90s in Catalonia, is clearly decreasing in this decade, being in the ‘in 2009 60% lower than then “.

All in all, tuberculosis is a bacterial disease that spreads more easily, among other factors, due to living in impoverished and unhealthy environments, and this is what must occupy the public authorities and those who want to be the our representatives. Propose and find solutions.

As for measles, a disease included in the vaccination schedule, maintains a high coverage by the population. If there are still cases, it is due either to an accumulation of susceptible people (the vaccine is not 100% effective) or to the fact that there are families who do not want to vaccinate their children, which, by the way, is it occurs much more frequently among indigenous people than among recently migrated ones. A resurgence of measles detected around 2006 had these characteristics.

Therefore, newcomers who come to our country and are infected with viral diseases such as measles or others belong to groups that were not vaccinated in their countries of origin, which normalize their situation in be here and happen to be in the same situation as other citizens.

In the case of the supposedly eradicated diseases, then, neither tuberculosis nor measles are still present, neither in Catalonia nor in Spain, and the “immigrants” who entrust themselves to some of them do so for the same reasons as the indigenous population.

Yes, we want to end, however, with two references: the first, known a few days ago, and which, although it has come to corroborate previous data, has still impacted many people: it is volume 31 of the collection of Social Studies of “la Caixa” Welfare Projects demonstrates that the balance between what immigrants living in our country contribute to the indicators of the welfare state is much higher than the social services (also health) they enjoy.

The second reference, referring directly to the field of health, is given by several scholars, according to which immigrants living in Spain as a whole, have better health indicators than the general population in their country and practice less use of health services that the native population of equal age and sex.

Health policies should not consider immigrants as a homogeneous group, which is not, in the same way that the so-called indigenous population is not, or for a long time, so that policies should be address the population as a whole, regardless of their place of birth, gender or other conditions, and must also consider the specific needs of groups of people and moments in the life of each person in need. .

It is the paradigm of the struggle for the reduction of social inequalities.

In short, it is up to us to establish and identify the relationship between people’s health and its determinants, such as lifestyles, economic situation, family, housing, social and community influences, working conditions (and, especially the lack of work) and the use of educational, cultural and health services.

This is what should allow us to guide policies aimed at protecting the health of the population, which we are all together. Also, the migratory phenomenon should not be taken into account. Of course.

But in no way add to their specific conditions the responsibility to attack the health of the whole community.

Whoever claims this does so with data that are not true and, consequently, neither are the arguments that derive from it. He lies blatantly and commits a grave injustice against the whole population and, particularly, against the people who have come to live and work among us because our country needs them. We are all citizens.


Catalonia, 18 May 2011



ELENA JORDI CASAS, Elena, family doctor.

DAVIDE MALMUSI, specialist in Preventive Medicine and Public Health

JOSEP MARTÍ VALLS, Doctor of Medicine (member of the CAPS)

JOANA MARTÍN BOCOS, community health nurse

IRENE MOLINS TARANCÓN, Child Physiotherapist

ALBERT MONCADA RIBERA, psychologist. Master in Public Health.

ANA NOVOA, public health specialist. Master and doctor.

GLÒRIA PÉREZ, specialist in preventive medicine and public health

ROSA PUIGPINÓS I RIERA, senior technician in public health.

MAICA RODRÍGUEZ-SANZ, public health technician



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