Myths on immigration are allowing governments around the world “to introduce hostile and restrictive policies”, a new study claims.
An investigation by peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet concludes that the normalisation of “harmful” myths - specifically ones claiming migrants are a burden on services - has allowed for the implementation of policies including migrants being denied treatment on the NHS and the detention of people at US borders.
The study examines commonly-held falsehoods, including the claim migrants are a burden on health services.
Contrary to popular myths, The Lancet has found migrants are actually more likely to bolster services by taking jobs in medical care, teaching and social care.
In the UK, they note, 37% of doctors received their medical qualification in another country.
The study also addresses the claim migrants can commonly be “disease carriers that pose risk to resident populations”, declaring this “one of the most prevalent and harmful” myths.
“Protection of the public is often invoked as a reason for the denial of entry [to a country], detention or deportation,” their analysis reads. “But too often these policies leave migrants facing worse health situations.”
The Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton adds that “in too many countries, the issue of migration is used to divide societies and advance a populist agenda”.
“With one billion people on the move today, growing populations in many regions of the world, and the rising aspirations of a new generation of young people, migration is not going away,” he says. “Migrants commonly contribute more to the economy than they cost, and how we shape their health and wellbeing today will impact our societies for generations to come.
“There is no more pressing issue in global health.”
The study is the result of a two-year project led by 20 leading experts from 13 countries.
Its publication comes following a recent HuffPost UK investigation found migrants have fraudulently claimed almost £19 million worth of NHS treatments a year.
The figure was published by government officials and led to a series of tabloid stories about foreigners exploiting “loopholes”, with the cost apparently reaching £200m over ten years.
But this website found the NHS’s fraud division has only discovered potential seven cases of fraud in the last three years, and just two definite cases.