Statement, 6th Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD VI) - Thematic Session: “Promoting Resilient Health Systems for Quality of Life”

Date Publish: 
Saturday, August 27, 2016 - 15:00
Mr. William Lacy Swing, Director General, International Organization for Migration
Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. Chairperson, Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Heads of Delegations, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to thank our host, the Government of Kenya and to the government and people of Japan and the Co-Sponsors for their unwavering support of Africa's Development through the TICAD framework.

I had the honor to participate in the TICAD V Summit in Yokohama in 2011 and I am honoured to be here today for  TICAD VI. IOM is very honoured and proud to be associated with the TICAD and I would like to thank the Government of Japan for its generous financial support in the implementation of  TICAD priority throughout Africa.

Since TICAD V in 2013, Africa has faced an immense challenge with the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Mano River Union in West Africa. The epidemic resulted in enormous loss of lives – it severely setback development progress.

The Ebola Outbreak was a two dimensional crisis – it was a crisis of a virulent disease that led to some 11,000 deaths. Ebola was also a crisis of health systems that were unable to address the challenges ebola posed in health service delivery and public health protection. The health system crisis brought a further crisis in its wake, crippling almost  all other governmental systems, including education, food security, trade, finance, and more.

I. Human mobility can play an important role in the spread of diseases

From one case in the remote Forest Region of Guinea, human mobility spread Ebola to 10 countries, at least three continents. Most of the mobility occurred at the sub-regional level, through unsupervised land border crossings. Indeed, many border communities across Africa, and throughout the world, share strong familial, social, cultural, and commercial ties across border lines, for whom cross-border movement is a natural part of daily life.

Moreover, land borders are porous and cannot be entirely monitored. Understanding cross-border mobility dynamics is a critical component of effective public health interventions if we are to prevent, detect and respond to health threats, as envisioned through the Global Health Security Agenda. To be effective, however, all must come together. This leads me to my second point:

II. Partnerships promote resilient health systems

The report of the Review Committee on the Role of  International Health Regulations in the Ebola Outbreak and Response specifically referred to the need for countries and health partners to collaborate with IOM in mapping these population mobility dynamics in order to identify vulnerable zones and areas of high risk in case of a public health emergency. The Report also urges that a country’s core capacities and contingency plans be inclusive – especially the vulnerable population, migrants, refugees, mobile populations and other hard to reach groups, regardless of their migration status. Indeed, global health security depends on individual health security; and inclusiveness is the hallmark of a resilient health system.

Promoting resilient health systems to enhance quality of life is a key strategy of IOM’s migration health programming. Our 1000 health workers with our Member States to promote migrant-sensitive health systems, and support Member States in health responses within humanitarian and public health emergencies, notably through the lens of human mobility.

III. Good migration governance helps prevent the spread of disease

IOM commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda, is reflected in the implementation of our Health, Border and Mobility Management (HBMM) Framework. The HBMM Framework unifies border management, human and health security that ultimately supports the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). Implementing HBMM, based on primary health care, achieves equity in health and renders health systems better able to prevent, detect and respond to epidemic and endemic infectious diseases.

In this regard, I would like to underline three practical measures to promote resilient health systems for quality of life in Africa.

1. Link disease surveillance and response systems with mechanisms to map population mobility and vulnerability. The integration of mobility data into disease surveillance  systems helps ensure that a) allocation of resources is based on sound priorities; b) that forecasts of the spread of disease and health threats through mobility corridors are more accurate; and that countries are better prepared for the next health threat.

2. Strengthen partnerships to support the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), for all including migrants and mobile populations, regardless of their migration status. UHC is fundamental to both individual and global health security and is essential to resilient, sustainable health systems.

3. Strengthen health system capacities to improve health service delivery across all sectors and all levels, and our ability to respond collaboratively to humanitarian and public health emergencies, including inter-state and intra-regional cooperation on health, border and mobility management.


Let me conclude by congratulating the Government of Kenya for successfully hosting the first TICAD Summit held in Africa, and the First TICAD in the first year of the implementation of the SDGs. IOM is committed to continue strengthening its key partnership with the Government and people of Japan, the co-organizers of TICAD, and African states in achieving the TICAD VI goals in support of Africa's development.