Open Access Open Badges Research article

Migrant-friendly hospitals: a paediatric perspective - improving hospital care for migrant children

Fabienne N Jaeger123*, Ligia Kiss1, Mazeda Hossain1 and Cathy Zimmerman1

Author Affiliations

1 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Keppel street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

2 Currently: Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

3 Currently: University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:389  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-389

Published: 5 October 2013



The European Union (EU) Migrant-Friendly Hospital (MFH) Initiative, introduced in 2002, promotes the adoption of care approaches adapted to meet the service needs of migrants. However, for paediatric hospitals, no specific recommendations have been offered for MFH care for children. Using the Swiss MFH project as a case study, this paper aims to identify hospital-based care needs of paediatric migrants (PMs) and good service approaches.


Semi-structured interviews were conducted with principal project leaders of five paediatric hospitals participating in the Swiss MFH project. A review of the international literature on non-clinical hospital service needs and service responses of paediatric MFHs was conducted.


Paediatric care can be complex, usually involving both the patient and the patient’s family. Key challenges include differing levels of acculturation between parents and children; language barriers; cultural differences between patient and provider; and time constraints. Current service and infrastructural responses include interpretation services for PMs and parents, translated information material, and special adaptations to ensure privacy, e.g., during breastfeeding. Clear standards for paediatric migrant-friendly hospitals (P-MFH) are lacking.


International research on hospital care for migrant children is scarce. The needs of paediatric migrants and their families may differ from guidance for adults. Paediatric migrant needs should be systematically identified and used to inform paediatric hospital care approaches. Hospital processes from admission to discharge should be revised to ensure implementation of migrant-sensitive approaches suitable for children. Staff should receive adequate support, such as training, easily available interpreters and sufficient consultation time, to be able to provide migrant-friendly paediatric services. The involvement of migrant groups may be helpful. Improving the quality of care for PMs at both policy and service levels is an investment in the future that will benefit native and migrant families.

Migrant; Migrant-friendly; Hospital; Service delivery; Foreign; Child; Paediatric; Pediatric; Switzerland