Training for refugee and migrant professionals in matters related to medicine

  • 1Introduction and learning objectives
  • 2The Theory
  • 3The Activities
  • 4Glossary

Introduction and learning objectives

EduOnMed Project

This curriculum has been developed in the framework of the EduOnMed project- KA210-ADU - Small-scale partnerships in adult education- and is based on Healthy Diversity Training Programme in the framework of the ”Healthy Diversity” project. The main objective of EduOnMed project is to bridge intercultural, intergenerational and social divides by fostering social inclusion and intercultural understanding as well as by improving the competencies of migration professionals in relation to health and medicine matters. Linked to this, the project focuses also on the physical and mental health of refugees and migrants as the skills that the participants will acquire will be used to improve the refugees and migrant’s wellbeing and will help their integration. In order to develop this curriculum, the EduOnMed partnership carried out local roundtables with professionals from health and social care sector, in Greece, Italy and Spain. The programme has been adapted according to the feedback of participants and a special focus has been done to the Covid pandemic and how it changed the perception or interaction between patient and health professional.


The Theory

Diversity Knowledge Box

“Every culture is a formulation of what is true, beautiful and just, and of how to get there” Carmel Camilleri, Professor of cultural psychology

Up to the present there is no single consensual definition of “culture”. Already in 1952, Kroeber and Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions in their work “Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions”.

One of the reasons for the many definitions is that there are many different angles from which it is possible to tackle the notion of culture. Some of these perspectives are described below.

Cultural variations in the experience of pain

Generally, the experience of pain is either thought of as something purely individual or connected to biological processes that affect all human beings in a certain way. Thus, some people seem to have a high threshold for pain, while some people seem to have a lower one and might be considered oversensitive to pain. However, how humans experience pain and make sense of it, is not only subject to their individual tolerance level or simply given on the basis of biochemical reactions. Rather, experience of pain hinges on social ways of making sense of the world, which affect how bodily sensations are interpreted. In his paper, Norbert Kohnen delineates cultural variations in the concepts that underlie the experience of pain. Reviewing anthropological research, he gives a vast number of examples of how pain is experienced and processed in a culturally specific way. Being unaware of variations in how pain might be felt and expressed in different cultures can have negative effects for a medical practice, for example when a doctor thinks that a patient is not in pain when actually what happens is that the patient’s experience does not fit with the doctor’s preconceived ideas about how pain is felt.

Women and mothers: Meaning of their vulnerability in migration flows

The paper by anthropologist Stefania Viapiana presents an interesting analysis offering practical examples on how some corporal practices and lifestyles vary according to the country and culture of the origin of the people. Firstly, the author introduces the concept of “double transit”, understood as the challenging situation experienced by the migrant woman who finds the values and norms of the host country different from hers, but also has to deal with the values of her culture of origin. Secondly, the author analyses the new challenge for migrant women fighting for autonomy from the authority of the husband in the new social context. References to eminent experts are offered in the text in an attempt to clarify some aspects of gender identity and to shed light on the meaning of practices of “female genital modifications”, taking up some cases for reflection. In the case of gender identity, some facts presented by the experts underline how in certain cultures the superiority of the man is perceived as a natural and biological matter, an idea which is greatly shared and actively contributed to by women themselves. The topic of female genital modifications is analysed through several examples indicating such practices as rituals that are preserved by women as part of the local tradition. Finally, a set of studies is presented, which highlights how some traditional practices become challenging for those women who are living as migrants in contact with Western populations.


Every culture is a formulation of what is true, beautiful and just, and of how to get there.

Carmel Camilleri, Professor of cultural psychology


The Activities


Literally “the science of humanity” that studies human beings in aspects ranging from the biology and evolutionary history to the features of society and culture. (Encyclopaedia Britannica,
Bioethics interrogate the ethical and philosophical bearings associated with biomedicine, i.e. what does this mean for the conceptualisation of death, where does life begin, what types of procedures are acceptable from an ethical standpoint, etc.
Biomedicine denotes a concept of medicine, dominant in the Western hemisphere, in which knowledge of health and disease is gained through natural sciences and scientific methods. Biological processes are deemed most important for understanding and treating bodily conditions conceived as diseases. Biomedicine is linked to specific assumptions about what constitutes health / a healthy body and which factors are considered relevant for diagnosis and cure. While physical and biochemical processes are given priority, social context and individual experiences are largely neglected.

Here, you can download the educational resources in English, Greek, Italian and Spanish


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