Global health leaders meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka, this week to discuss the migrant health and reset the agenda on migrant health based on the current trends of global migration.
The second Global Consultation on Migrant Health, jointly organised by the Government of Sri Lanka, International Organization of Migration (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO) is being held from 21-23 February in Colombo.
More than 90 participants from governments, United Nations bodies, academia, researchers, non-governmental organisations and other multi-sectoral partners participate in the consultation to develop a unified strategy amid ‘unprecedented’ levels of migration.
Coordinated efforts, and coherent and comprehensive responses with whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches based on shared values, evidence and multi-sectoral policy dialogues are required to address the health needs of refugees and migrants.
“The Global Consultation provides an ideal opportunity to reset the international agenda on migrant health based on extraordinary migration trends we are currently experiencing,” Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka said in a press release.
According to WHO, the scale of human migration currently witnessed is unprecedented and has important implications for the health sector. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today, including 250 million international migrants and 763 million internal migrants.
Addressing the health needs of migrants reduces long-term health and social costs, enhances health security and contributes to social and economic development.
Sri Lanka is providing leadership on migrant health. It is one of the few countries in the world to have a ‘National Migrant Health Policy’, introduced in 2008. Sri Lanka recognises the contribution of migrants to national and overseas development.
Almost two million Sri Lankans work overseas, the country hosts a large number of immigrants and receives two million tourists annually. Ensuring the health of these migrants and the country’s own population is a top priority.
Demonstrating the high level commitment to migrant health, the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh and senior government representatives from over 40 countries will take part in this meeting.
The global consultation will lead to the ‘Colombo Statement’, calling for action on migrant health. This will be shared at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, as 194 countries deliberate on a resolution to protect migrants’ health.