In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, a political declaration that set forth commitments for refugees and migrants in large movements. The Declaration also introduced the plans for a comprehensive refugee response framework and steps towards the development of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), as well as towards the development of the The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in 2018.
Adopted in December 2018 under the auspices of the UNGA, the GCM, a Member State-led process, offers the international community a unique opportunity to ensure that health will be mainstreamed into future global and regional migration and development architecture. As health was not identified as a focus area of the GCM through the thematic sessions, IOM, in close partnership with WHO, made efforts to ensure health was adequately addressed within the discussions under respective themes and eventually included in the GCM drafts. These include jointly organized side events on the margins of three of the GCM thematic sessions and a side event during the UNGA high-level week. The agencies worked effectively and efficiently in advancing the migration health agenda by achieving policy milestones that fed into the GCM development, such as (i) the second global consultation on migrant health, hosted by the government of Sri Lanka; (ii) the resulting the Colombo statement, which was accepted as a formal input to the preparatory phase of the GCM by the co-facilitators; (iii) the jointly developed Proposed Health Components to the GCM that was acknowledged in the stocktaking phase of the GCM negotiations; and (iv) the WHA 70.15 resolution and its associated WHO Framework. The inclusion of migration health in both Global Compacts provides a policy coherence success.
Furthermore, as secretariat and coordinator of the newly established UN Network on Migration, IOM looks forward to further UN system coherence in supporting Member States in the implementation of the health-related commitments and actions of the GCM, in particular through the dedicated workstream on improving social inclusion and integration of migrants with focus on inclusive access of services.
Key global and regional policy processes in recent years including in global migration, health and development have integrated the importance of promoting the health of migrants through multisectoral action - both as a human right in itself and as a cross-cutting issue. IOM’s Migration Health Division (MHD) has contributed to and participated in several key high-level migration policy platforms, including the IOM Council, the International Dialogue on Migration (IDM) and the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).
Migration Health in the IOM Council Meetings
The IOM Council is the highest governance assembly of IOM, annually assembling its high-level constituency. IOM Council sessions have discussed migration health issues, such as IOM’s role in Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, IOM interventions supporting health system recovery and resilience in response to humanitarian and public health emergencies, as well as the need to integrate mental health and psychosocial support elements in response plans. Furthermore, the 109th IOM Council Session in November 2018 featured a high-level panel discussion on Policy coherence for migration health: Challenges and Opportunities comprised of representatives from Member States, including Mozambique and Thailand, as well as from key partners, including WHO and the Gavi Alliance. Key themes discussed in the session included Universal Health Coverage and the need for international cooperation and partnerships for migration health policies to be coherent and effective.
IOM has closely engaged with partners during IDM sessions throughout the years on discussions pertaining to migration health. Most recently, in 2018, IOM included a focus on migration health in the March and October sessions of the IDM. Interventions from Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (WHO Deputy Director General for Programmes) on Coordinating United Nations support for capacity development on migration, Dr. Raniero Guerra, WHO Assistant Director General for Special Initiatives, on Partnering to make migration work for all, as well as from Dr. Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff of The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, on Meeting funding needs for capacity development on migration were featured. Providing a regional perspective, Dr. Gudelia Rangel, Executive Secretary of the Mexico-US Health Border Commission, International Relations General Division to the Health Secretariat, Mexico, delivered an intervention on Partnership frameworks for developing capacity on migration.
Migration Health in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)
Since 2007, IOM has been participating and engaging with GFMD partners in various forums to advocate and promote the health of migrants. For instance, during the 2013 GFMD meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, and under Roundtable 1.1 on operationalizing mainstreaming and coherence in migration and development policies, IOM presented the challenges in promoting migrants’ right to health, and called for increased policy coherence and shared solutions across multiple sectors, further advocating for the implementation of the WHA Resolution 61.17 and its action framework (Madrid 2010). In 2017, under the Platform for Partnerships session of the GFMD summit in Berlin, Germany, IOM, with WHO and Morocco’s Ministry Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Moroccans Residing Abroad and Migration Affairs, presented on the promotion of health financing and coverage of migrants for sustainable development, urging Member States and key multisectoral partners to strengthen bilateral and multilateral arrangements that would provide financial protection in health for migrants.
During the 2018 GFMD held in Marrakesh, Morocco, IOM provided migration health inputs to Roundtable 1.2 on Migrants’ engagement with public services: from basic access to co-production, and Roundtable 3.1 on Aligning governance with contemporary drivers of migration. Most recently, IOM has provided inputs and participated in the preparatory meetings for the Twelfth GFMD Summit Meeting held in Quito, Ecuador in January 2020. Migration health key issues such as access to health services for migrants and health-inclusive policies, among others, are featured in the background paper for Roundtable 2: Facilitating social and economic inclusion.