Home Institution

Loyola University Chicago

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy


In the context of the feminization of increasing global migration, it is impossible to understand maternal and child health in a given country without considering the experience of female migrants. As the total migrant population increases in the European Union, migration and its effects on health care provision in receiving countries and the experiences of immigrant populations must be recognized. Past research exposes an increased risk of complications and maternal mortality in migrant populations, but little information exists on the tangible programs that could respond to disparity. According to the World Health Organization, maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. What this definition does not address are the motivations and cultural perceptions of maternal health practices and pregnancy, which may influence the choices a woman makes in her perinatal care and the ultimate outcomes of her pregnancy. This study uses personal interviews with experts and available literature to evaluate the current trends in maternal health experiences and the sociocultural barriers to care. Migrant women face language barriers, rupture of social networks, and cultural insensitivity during a very vulnerable and chaotic experience of pregnancy. Culturally competent physicians can employ practical tools to assess the health perceptions of migrant women without referring to preconceived cultural expectations. Pan-Milar, an existing education program that provides interpretation and social support for migrant women is an effective model for future programs. In addition, woman-centered models such as the Midwives Model of Care inherently include the needs of migrant women in their method of practice and could be prioritized in the immediate response to disparities.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Inequality and Stratification | Maternal and Child Health | Mental and Social Health | Politics and Social Change | Public Health | Women's Studies