Harnessing Partnerships to Better Map Research Evidence on Migration Health
What do we know about the landscape of migration health research? Who is doing the research? What are they researching on? Which migrant categories are included? What are the health related themes? How can we better understand the research and evidence gap in migration and health? What collaborations are taking place, and can we map who funds this research?
These are some of the questions that a group of scholars, policy makers and International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff investigated at a workshop on bibliometrics analysis of migration health research held in November 2019 at IOM’s Global Administrative Centre in Manila, Philippines.
The workshop was the first of this kind, harnessing research collaboration not only within IOM but also with the government agencies, clinicians and research institutions, mainly from South and Southeast Asia.
“Bibliometric analysis is a useful research method as it lets you look at the patterns of research activities such as publications. In any global health field, it is extremely helpful to know where the work is being done, who is doing it, where the collaborations are happening, and what topics are being explored,” said Dr. Margaret Sampson, an international expert on bibliometric analysis who facilitated the workshop.
Jointly organized by IOM, together with the Migration Health and Development Research Initiative (MHADRI) and the Migration & Health South Asia Network, the workshop served as a platform to develop research capacity, with particular focus on researchers in the Global South, in undertaking bibliometric analysis to identify the gaps in research output on migration health.
In 2018, IOM and MHADRI undertook the first-ever bibliometric analysis of global migration health research in peer-reviewed literature focusing on international migrants.
The study revealed major gaps in research productivity especially in the Global South as most literature is from high-income migrant destination countries, despite the significant migration flows within the countries in Asia, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
For example, according to the study, only 6.2 per cent of the total published research output on the health of migrants focused on migrant workers, despite 60 per cent of international migrants represented within this category.
Supporting the networking, capacity development of researchers, especially those from developing nations, to undertake migration health-related research was highlighted.
The importance of undertaking more in-depth mapping of migration health research output for both international and internal migrants in low to middle income countries were also highlighted in the research by IOM and MHADRI.
The Manila Consensus Group forged at the workshop aimed at further refining and testing the search strategies for bibliometrics research and provide analytical rigour to apply these methods for migration health research.
The group committed to developing methodological guidelines in undertaking bibliometric analysis as well as to work on providing a standardized approach to undertaking bibliometric analysis relevant to research on international and internal migration dynamics.
The group committed to publishing these outputs in open source platforms supported by IOM so as to make this publicly available so that researchers, policy makers and UN agencies can utilize to undertake tailored analytics.
“It boils down to how you frame your question, the right key words, and the right way to search – maybe we are making it too wide or too tight – maybe we are not getting the right information. So, the tools and strategies presented were really helpful,” said one of the workshop participants, Dr. Roomi Aziz, Technical Lead Health Data and Communication, Pathways to Impact in Pakistan
The Manila Consensus group will delve into questions focusing on the research productivity relating to migration and health in Philippines, internal migration and health related research in South Asia as well as the research productivity relating to health assessments of migrants and refugees at pre- and post-migration phases and health outcomes in areas ranging from Infectious disease, communicable disease and occupational health.
“The workshop provided an excellent opportunity to build research capacity among Global South scholars, to enable them to go back and take deep dives to understand the research productivity in the field of migration health in their local areas and use that as evidence to move the field forward,” said Associate Professor Charles Hui, Chairperson of MHADRI network and Chief of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario, Ottawa.
In addition to harnessing the synergies created through this initiative, IOM seeks to work with member states, partner organizations and research networks to replicate such mapping and collaboration in other regions.
2019 The BMJ Migration health series
2018 Sweileh WM, Wickramage K, Pottie K, Hui C, Roberts B, Sawalha AF, and Zyoud SH
Bibliometric analysis of global migration health research in peer-reviewed literature (2000–2016). BMC Public Health, 2018, 18:777
2018 The UCL–Lancet Commission on Migration and Health: the health of a world on the move