Sweden’s first WHO Collaborating Centre for Migration and Health

6 December 2021

WHO-employees standing outside a refugee camp

In November 2021, the WHO carried out an assessment of the health situation for migrants in Lithuania. Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil participated as an external expert.

International maternal and child health at Uppsala University’s Department of Women's and Children's Health has been appointed as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Migration and Health – the first Swedish institution and fourth worldwide in this category.

Professor Inger Sundström Poromaa, head of the
Department of Women's and Children's Health.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“Our ambition is to develop the centre into a platform and centre of excellence for anyone who wishes to work with us and the WHO to promote the health of refugees and migrants,” says Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil.

He is a senior lecturer at the Department of Women's and Children's Health, and leading the new centre together with head of department Professor Inger Sundström Poromaa. The department has collaborated a good deal with the WHO over recent years, providing expertise in the field of migration and health. This link will now be even closer after the appointment as a WHO Collaborating Centre on Migration and Health Data and Evidence.

“This is recognition of the migration research that has long been conducted at the department,” says Inger Sundström Poromaa. “The assignment involves supporting and advising the WHO and WHO member countries on matters such as research and education design, as well as assisting the WHO in various activities. We will also collaborate with other institutions and organisations around the world that are working in the field of migration and health.”

Developing guidelines

The new WHO Collaborating Centre for Migration and Health has a mission statement describing various activities that it will be implementing, including the development of health guidelines for detention centres by the department’s researchers. Another task is to assist the WHO Regional Office for Europe in developing a questionnaire to follow up the implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan for Refugee and Migrant Health in the WHO European Region.

Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil, senior lecturer at the
Department of Women's and Children's Health.
Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

“We will be providing scientific support to WHO headquarters in developing the first global WHO report on the health of refugees and migrants. We will also be working to develop our centre into a collaborative platform for all those at the university and elsewhere in Sweden who wish to collaborate with us and the WHO to promote the health of refugees and migrants,” says Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil.

He has just returned from working as an external expert on a WHO mission on the border between Lithuania and Belarus to assess the health situation of migrants.

Utilising scientific evidence

The new centre’s activities are focused on supporting government agencies and international organisations in the everyday use of scientific evidence.

Will this also have an impact on research?
“Yes, by transforming important evidence obtained through research into a more comprehensible form, it will be of greater benefit to society. The collaboration also provides us with access to the WHO’s own experts, and the opportunity to invite the WHO to be a partner in future research projects, as well as improving the use of our own and others’ research and knowledge in global guidelines and other documents,” says Soorej Jose Puthoopparambil.

WHO Collaborating Centres

WHO Collaborating Centres are institutions such as research institutes and departments at universities or academies appointed by the Director-General of the WHO to carry out activities in support of the Organization's programmes.

Appointments as a WHO Collaborating Centre are valid for four years, in this case until 16 September 2025, and may be renewed.

Last modified: 2021-02-14