Based on an analysis of published literature, this paper provides an over-view of the challenges associated with delivering on the right to access quality health care for international migrants to industrialized countries, and asks which group of professionals is best equipped to provide services that increase health and legal literacy. Both rights and challenges are approached from a social justice perspective with the aim of identifying opportunities to promote greater health equity. That is, to go beyond the legal dictates enshrined in principles of equality, and target as an ethical imperative a situation where all migrants receive the particular assistance they need to overcome the barriers that inhibit their equitable access to health care. This assistance is especially important for migrant groups that are further disadvantaged by differing cultural constructions of gender. Viewing the topic from this perspective makes evident a gap in both research literature and policy. The review has found that while health literacy is debated and enshrined as a policy objective, and consideration is given to improving legal literacy as a means of challenging social injustice in developing nations, however, no discussion has been identified that considers assisting migrants to gain legal literacy as a step toward achieving not only health literacy and improved health outcomes, but critical participation as members of their adoptive society.
Increasing migrant health literacy, amalgamated with legal literacy, aids migrants to better access their human right to appropriate care, which in turn demonstrably assists in increasing social engagement, citizenship and productivity. However what is not evident in the literature, is which bureaucratic or societal group holds responsibility for assisting migrants to develop critical citizenship literacy skills. This paper proposes that a debate is required to determine both who is best placed to provide services that increase health and legal literacy, and how they should be resourced, trained and equipped.