The Health System and Immigrants

A Focus on Urban France

Authored by: Anne-Cécile Hoyez , Céline Bergeon , Clélia Gasquet-Blanchard

Handbook of Global Urban Health

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138206250
eBook ISBN: 9781315465456
Adobe ISBN:


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In this chapter, we present the nexus between urban living and health as it occurs in France, and focus on the particular situation of immigrants in terms of health. Our observation of their situation enabled us to make inferences not only about immigrants’ experiences but also about the healthcare system, whose efficiency is not only challenged but called into question, particularly in urban environments. Regarding social contexts, newly arrived immigrants are highly represented among economically deprived and precarious populations. In particular, they are more than others excluded from access to resources (by effects of direct or indirect discrimination processes), they are more represented among people who attend specific healthcare centres (such as dispensaries run by humanitarian NGOs), and their healthcare pathways are mostly constrained by their living conditions, notably residential precarity. Thus, issues related to health and precarity among immigrants living in urban environments have given rise to major political and social debates. We establish a state of the art of how French academics approach these issues. To illustrate this we present two case studies based on our fieldwork, which reveals that the existence of an urban continuum should also be questioned in light of immigrants’ social realities, including their ability or inability to access healthcare services.

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