Refugee and migrant health

News and events

Learn more about how WHO works on Health and Migration through our new and upcoming events below.



The 70th World Health Assembly endorsed a Resolution on ‘Promoting the health of refugees and migrants’ on Monday 29 May 2017

We are very pleased to announce that the Resolution on “Promoting the Health of Refugees and Migrants” was endorsed on Monday 29 May. The Resolution was co-sponsored by 14 countries; Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Haiti, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Switzerland, Thailand, Zambia.

Key points that emerged through the sessions included unanimous consensus that health must be included in the Global Compacts; appreciation to WHO for the development of the Framework of Priorities and Guiding Principles to Promote the Health of Refugees and Migrants as well as commitment to the identification and collection best practices, experience and lessons learned to reported to the 71st WHA and the Global Plan of Action to be submitted for consideration at the 72nd WHA; and the need for interregional and international cooperation and responsibility sharing among countries in responding to the health needs of refugees and migrants.

2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health: Resetting the agenda

IOM/WHO

While all health-related human rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights apply equally to all persons, including migrants, refugees and migrants often lack equitable access to adequate health services and financial protection for health. Their health needs are not consistently addressed. Governments are faced with the challenge of integrating the health needs of refugees and migrants into national plans, policies and strategies across sectors. The approaches are often fragmented and costly, and lack sustainability.

Coordinated efforts, and coherent and comprehensive responses with whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches based on shared values, evidence and multisectoral policy dialogues are required to address the health needs of refugees and migrants. In this regard, WHO jointly organized the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 21 - 23 February 2017, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The consultation was hosted by the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. More than 90 participants from governments, United Nations bodies, academia, researchers, non-governmental organizations and other multi-sectoral partners participated in the consultation.

Objectives
1. To share lessons learned, good practices and research in addressing the health needs of migrants, and to identify gaps, opportunities and new challenges;

2. To reach consensus on key policy strategies on the health of migrants, and to pave the way towards a possible roadmap of key benchmarks;

3. To engage multi-sectoral partners at policy level for a sustained international dialogue and an enabling policy environment for change.

Expected outcomes
1. A “Colombo Statement” expressing governments’ support to promote the health of migrants at multi-sector level;

2. Experts’ and policy makers’ recommendations to lead the future advancement of migration health as a key global health agenda;

3. Agreed ‘indicators and benchmarks’ to enhance the 2010 Madrid ‘Operational Framework’ with a progress-monitoring framework;

4. A common roadmap of engagement, aligned with the implementation of World Health Assembly Resolutions, Sustainable Development Goals, the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and other relevant instruments;

5. A research agenda and network for the production and sharing of evidence to enhance migrant-inclusive policy development.

The 140th Executive Board Decision on Promoting the health of refugees and migrants

WHO

On 31 January 2017, during the 140th Executive Board Session, the Executive Board made a Decision on ‘Promoting the health of refugees and migrants’.

The Decision requests the WHO Director-General:

1. To prepare, in full consultation and cooperation with Member States,2 and in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR and other relevant stakeholders, a draft framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants, to be considered by the Seventieth World Health Assembly;

2. To make every possible effort, in close collaboration with Member States, and based on the guiding principles, to ensure that health aspects are adequately addressed in the development of the global compact on refugees and the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, in close collaboration with relevant international organizations, and to report thereon to the Seventy-first World Health Assembly;

3. To conduct a situation analysis by identifying and collecting experiences and lessons learned on the health of refugees and migrants in each region, in order to provide inputs for the development of the framework of priorities and guiding principles to promote the health of refugees and migrants, and to report thereon to the Seventy-first World Health Assembly;

4. To develop, in full consultation and cooperation with Member States,2 and in cooperation with other relevant stakeholders, such as the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR, a draft global action plan on the health of refugees and migrants, to be considered for adoption by the Seventy-second World Health Assembly, through the Executive Board at its 144th session.

WHO meeting on the development of the organization-wide framework to address the health needs of refugees and migrants

WHO

The WHO Regional Office for Europe hosted the first WHO global meeting on the development of an organization-wide framework on health and migration, in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 12-14 December 2016.

The aims of the meeting were to share knowledge and experiences and to discuss how WHO might best scale up its support to countries in order to meet the increasing health needs of refugees and migrants and to respond to the public health challenges associated with migration. The meeting, organized by WHO headquarters with the support of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, resulted in the development of the first organization-wide framework on health and migration.

The 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly

General Assembly of the United Nations

On 19 September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly convened a high-level plenary to address large movements of refugees and migrants in light of the need for greater international solidarity and support in response to the recent movements. The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants was adopted, which sets out principles and recommendations applying to both refugees and migrants as well as separate commitments on refugees and migrants, and its two annexes pave the way for two the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, in 2018. The Declaration commits Member States to greater responsibility-sharing and to working towards the adoption, in 2018, of the two global compacts.

WHO fully engaged in this process and provided the health inputs in the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, endorsed on 19 September 2016.

WHO will provide technical support to Member States in achieving the health commitments of the New York Declaration and will support Member States and partners, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in particular, in the development of the Global Compacts on refugees and on migrants to ensure that health is sufficiently addressed.

WHO/IOM/UNHCR Side Event at UN General Assembly Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants

WHO

Health in the context of migration and forced displacement

On 22 September 2016, the side event ‘Health in the Context of Migration and Forced Displacement’ was co-organized by the Governments of Italy and Sri Lanka, WHO, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It was the first time that the health of refugees and migrants had been discussed at the United Nations General Assembly and it was therefore an historic event. This side event aimed to raise awareness and bring attention to the health of refugees and migrants, which had, up to then, been insufficiently addressed in multi-sector platforms, including the New York Declaration. It facilitated the sharing of current perspectives and good practices and emphasized the need for shared responsibility in promoting the health of refugees and migrants. This is a prerequisite for achieving Universal Health Coverage for all, regardless of status, and the management of safe, orderly and regular migration and the provision of asylum. These achievements would contribute towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular goals 3.8 and 10.7, ensuring healthy lives for all and no-one being left behind.

The side event highlighted the need for 1) advocating political leaders for health policy changes, 2) policy changes – integrating refugees and migrants into national health programmes, making use of national health systems instead of parallel health care systems in refugee camps, 3) needs for health systems strengthening and providing universal health coverage and quality essential health services to meet the health needs of refugees and migrants, 4) need for health monitoring, 5) partnership and collaboration and 6) combating xenophobia.

World Health Assembly Technical Briefing on Health and Migration

WHO

During the 69th World Health Assembly in May 2016, a technical briefing on health and migration was organized by WHO, attended by over 200 participants from numerous Member States, United Nations agencies, civil society, non-governmental organizations, partners and the press. The objectives of the briefing were to review the current situation and priorities related to health and migration, to review best practices and lessons learnt, and to review the implications for WHO’s future work on health and migration, which has up to now been guided by the action points of the World Health Assembly Resolution 61.17 on the health of migrants. The human face of all that surrounds access to health care for refugees and migrants was emphasized during the briefing and recommendations made.

The session was opened by the WHO Director-General, followed by the International Organization for Migration Director General. A WHO analysis was provided by the Regional Director of WHO’s European Region, outlining actions by all WHO regions, followed by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on the health needs of refugees. Country perspectives within the panel were organized into two themes:

• Sustainable development and migration;
• Large scale displacement – for refugees and internally displaced persons.