Emphasising Migrant Health at WHO Istanbul Gathering

Capacity Building, Migration Health

Istanbul – IOM’s Vienna Regional Office put migration health at the forefront during a three-day high-level technical meeting and ministerial consultation of the World Health Organization European Region in Istanbul last week.  

Ministers from 53 countries shared the platform with technical experts as they discussed a global plan to improve public health preparedness and response for all health hazards. The initiative requires high-level political and financial commitment to address the full cycle of emergency management. 

Dr Jaime Calderon, IOM’s Senior Health Advisor for South-eastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia spoke on a high-level panel about the need for migrant health to be included in the global initiative.  

“Health is integrated in the overall humanitarian response of IOM, particularly in natural disasters where IOM is a Camp Coordination and Management cluster lead,” Dr Calderon told the audience of ministers and experts.  

He pointed to Libya, where IOM provides life-saving health care services to more than 15,000 migrants living in and outside of detention centres, as well as countries in Jordan, Syria and across the Middle East. In South Sudan, IOM established and supports delivery of mental health and psychosocial support services for displaced people, he added, also citing examples in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria.   

In the Europe region, said Dr Calderon, IOM works with the health cluster supporting WHO, governments and other key actors in addressing health needs of migrants since the start of the European migration crisis.  IOM is present in Ukraine, in the Western Balkans, Turkey and countries in Western Europe supporting delivery of health services, including mental health services to migrants and refugees. 

“We provide comprehensive migrant health care and prevention services during the crisis and throughout the movement process – at the pre-departure stage, during travel and transit and upon return based on existing health systems and evidence-based needs assessment,” he concluded. 

Dr Dorit Nitzan, Coordinator for Health Emergencies, WHO Regional Office for Europe was encouraged by the progress made around the issue. “It is clear that the International Health Regulations (2005) are more relevant than ever, and it is encouraging to see that countries are prioritizing and building their national capacities to prevent, detect and respond to all types of health threats.” 

For more information, please contact Joe Lowry at IOM’s Regional Office in Vienna, Tel: +436603776404, Email: jlowry@iom.int