Migration has been at the forefront of our digital screens and political discussions in recent years. The number of people who migrated across international borders surged by 41 percent in the last 15 years to reach 244 million in 2015, 21 million of which were refugees. Internal migration is estimated at 740 million people worldwide. Migration continues to evolve and to become more complex through increased mixed migration flows comprised of many categories of migrants, involving both traditional and new countries of origin, transit and destination. Additionally, the socio-economic, bio-environmental and political context within which modern migration takes place keeps changing, determining new challenges and areas of opportunity, including in the health sector, towards the realization of migration as an effective poverty-reduction and development-enabling factor.

Migration is a social determinant of health that can impact the well-being of an individual, as well as the community at large. Most migrants are healthy and young, and migration can improve the health status of migrants and their families through providing a safer haven or better education and purchasing power for ‘left behind’ family members, thanks to remittances. However, the migration process can also expose migrants to health risks and many migrants lack access to adequate, equitable health services and financial protection. Health systems may not have sufficient capacity to manage migrant health needs especially in the case of large movements. Furthermore, human mobility, whether resulting from migration or international travel can be a critical factor in the spread of disease and/or a challenge to controlling it. The Ebola crisis reminded us how a lack of preparedness, targeted health services and surveillance along mobility pathways undermines effective disease control measures.

Governments are faced with the challenge of integrating the health needs of migrants into national plans, policies and strategies across sectors, responding to the call to ‘leave no one behind’ and achieve Universal Health Coverage, stated by the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Coordinated efforts are needed to ensure that migrant health is addressed without discrimination throughout the migration cycle, as are efforts to adapt and strengthen the resilience of local health systems in light of more diverse population health profiles. Addressing the health needs of migrants and affected local populations reduces long-term health and social costs, facilitates integration and contributes to social and economic development.

The UN General Assembly Summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants has created a unique opportunity for the global community to forge a greater consensus on managing the world’s movements of migrants and refugees. It also set in motion the development of a roadmap to a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and a Global Compact for Refugees.


In response to the renewed international attention to the topic, IOM, WHO and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka jointly organize the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health to offer Member States and partners a meaningful platform for multi-sectoral dialogue and political commitment to enhance the health of migrants.

  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 to reach a unified agenda across regions on the health of migrants, reconciling acute large scale displacement, as well as long-term economic and disparity-driven structural migration, 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

To facilitate a continuation of the political dialogue on the advancement of migrant health:

  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 WHA resolutions, SDGs, UNGA Global Compacts for migrants and refugees, and other relevant instruments;
  5. A research agenda and network for the production and sharing of evidence to enhance migrant-inclusive policy development.

Three thematic areas defining global agendas and paradigms are proposed, within a rights-based, people-centered, gender and equity approach:

  1. Global Health:  to reduce disease burden in migrants and host communities through universal health coverage (UHC) encompassing promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation. This will be calibrated by concepts of quality of care, integrated people-centered health services, primary health care and health system strengthening.
  2. Vulnerability & Resilience: to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience of migrants, communities and health systems, calibrated along the social and environmental determinants of health model and equity in migrant health concepts.
  3. Development: to ensure health of migrants is made an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and key indicators to monitor progress of achievements are identified, calibrated along the Sustainable Development Goals.
Related documents
Discussion Papers 
Background Documents 
Related links