Annual Meeting

Migration and Health. Cultural Diversity as a Challenge to Medical Care

Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Leibniz-Saal, Markgrafenstraße 38, 10117 Berlin

Prof. Dr. iur. Andreas Spickhoff, Universität Göttingen, Deutscher Ethikrat, Fotograf: Reiner Zensen


According to the Federal Statistical Office, there are about 15.6 million people with a migratory background living in Germany, which corresponds to about 19 percent of the population. They enrich social life and at the same time pose great challenges for the health care system.

Not only may language barriers have to be overcome, there are also culture-specific values and their effects on health behaviour, doctor-patient relationships and therapy decisions that have to be taken into account. Thus it is necessary to take a more nuanced look at the definitions and concepts of migration and culture than is usually the case.

From an ethical perspective, the focus is on the following questions:

  • What should culturally sensitive medicine and corresponding medical ethics look like?
  • What are the consequences drawn from this for the improvement of medical care for patients with a migratory background?
  • Should there be special patient rights for migrants?
  • How do we deal with patients who are staying in the country illegally?
  • How can we determine the relationship between solidarity and personal responsibility in the context of migration and health?
  • What health policy steps might be necessary?

The German Ethics Council addresses these questions at its annual meeting with scientists and practitioners from medical, legal and ethical perspectives. The annual meeting is intended to contribute to the clarification of concepts as well as to the examination and in-depth discussion of the connection between migration, medical care and health policy.