Migration and Sexual Reproductive Health needs: the case of Eritrean and Somali refugees in Ethiopia and Switzerland

Nejimu Zepro, University of Basel

Introduction: The public health priority towards migration and public health emergencies, sexual and reproductive health needs are often overlooked – with staggering consequences. However, migration and refugee health are a growing global health issues. In the recent years, due to the unmatched refugee flood worldwide, the public health attention towards migration has started to get momentum globally. Migrant populations are prone to risky life-threatening complications, particularly susceptible to Sexual and reproductive health problems due to poor access for healthcare, violence and inadequate infrastructure. Women and girls may lose access to family planning services, exposing them to unintended pregnancy and abortion in such perilous conditions. They also become more vulnerable to sexual violence, exploitation and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS infection.

Background: The global number of migrants is alarmingly increasing every year. For the past 10 years, refugees from Eritrea represented the majority of citizens in the humanitarian setting of Switzerland and Ethiopia. Approximately 80 percent of all crisis-affected populations are women, children and youth who should be able to access comprehensive sexual reproductive health services. Humanitarian crises, poverty, dislocation and insecurity routinely disrupt access to comprehensive sexual reproductive health care. Yet, the determinants of SRH are burdened by humanitarian crisis situation, the prior SRH needs are largely unknown. Hence, understanding the basic health care needs and expectations of migrants in their new host countries will have a crucial importance for the host country to provide adequate assistance and set priorities for such vulnerable groups.
The Global Health Cluster endorses the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) as a minimum standard in SRH service provision in emergencies setting and implementing it is not optional: it is an international standard of care that should be implemented at the onset of every emergency (MISP). Despite the large number of Eritrean refugees and migrants in the country, to our knowledge, the health condition of this population is not fully documented.


  • Objective 1: To document prevalence and SRH related risk factors and how this affects the health seeking behavior among Eritrean migrants, Ethiopia and Switzerland
  • Objective 2: Assessment of drivers and barriers for sexual reproductive health service use among Eritrean migrants in Ethiopia and Switzerland
  • Objective 3: To develop and test educational intervention packages in enhancing SRH service uptake in the humanitarian setting
  • Methods: mixed methods approach combining both quantitative and qualitative study design will be employed. The data from migrants, health care providers and humanitarian officials through structured and unstructured interviews as per the objective of the study.

Relevance: The high-quality evidence generated through standard guideline in the humanitarian setting will serve for discussions and exchange with national policymakers – as evidence-based support political commitment for allocation of financial resources to improve sexual reproductive health care needs of the migrant population.

Keywords: MISP, Migration Health, Humanitarian Setting, GBV, Refugee, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Switzerland

Short Biography

My name is Nejimu Biza Zepro, a PhD student in Public health/Epidemiology department at Swiss Tropical Public Health institute (Swiss TPH), Medical faculty, University of Basel. I have MSC degree in Maternal and Reproductive health from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Moreover, I took my Bachelor degree in Nursing from Hawassa University, Ethiopia. Currently I am Assistant professor of Reproductive Health at Samara University, Ethiopia. I am working on areas of maternal child health, Reproductive Health and gender equality in Ethiopia. I am very interested in the research areas of Global health, Migration Health, Epidemiology and Health system research especially in the areas of crisis (Pastoralist community, Refugee/Humanitarian setting).

Nejimu Zepro

Nejimu Zepro
Swiss TPH
University of Basel

Personal Website

Supervisor: Sonja Merten

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