Refugee and migrant health

  • 2020-10-21
  • 1035

More people are on the move now than ever before. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today of whom 272 million are international migrants and 763 million internal migrants – one in seven of the world’s population. An estimated 70.8 million of the world’s internal and international migrants are forcibly displaced today.

Globalization, conflict, poverty, climate change, urbanization, inequality and poor job prospects are among the reasons that compel people to leave their homes in search of a better future. Despite the many benefits of migration, migrants themselves remain among the most vulnerable members of society.

Refugees and migrants contribute positively to but they cannot contribute at their full potential unless they are in good health. Those in vulnerable situations (particularly during the migratory process) are at risk of having poor health conditions including mental health. This is due to lack of access to health care, interrupted care and poor living and working conditions. Addressing health needs of refugees and migrants early on through preventive and primary care lowers costs for the health care system in the long run. Governments face the challenge of integrating the health needs of refugees and migrants into national plans, policies and strategies so that all people can access quality and affordable health care when they need it.

WHO has primary responsibility for promoting the health of refugees and migrants and achieving universal health coverage. WHO’s priorities for 2020-2

  1. Provide global leadership, high level advocacy and dialog to raise awareness and political commitments, coordination and policy development on health and migration
  2. Set norms and standards on health and migration including co-development of guidance and tools and promote a research agenda aimed at generating evidence- based information to support decision making and global guidance for new tools and strategies on health and migration.
  3. Monitor trends, strengthen health information system, develop accountability framework and indicators for progress monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the Global Action Plan ‘Promoting the health of Refugees and Migrants’
  4. Provide specialized technical assistance, response and capacity building support to Member States, WHO Technical departments, Regional and Country Offices and partners in addressing public health challenges that are associated with human mobility wherever needed nationally and transnationally.
  5. Promote multi-lateral action, inter- country, inter- regional and global collaboration for continuity of care and coherent and integrated actions, and to accelerate progress through working across United Nations Systems including the UN Network on Migration and other intergovernmental and non-governmental mechanisms.

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