IOM DG Addresses Global Conference on Public Health

Migration Health

Thailand - IOM Director General William Lacy Swing yesterday (2/2) told an audience of over 900 health policy leaders in Bangkok that inclusive health systems must fully address the needs of migrants and refugees.

He was speaking at the 11th annual Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC), which was this year co-hosted by IOM and 17 other international organizations. The theme of the conference was:  Addressing the Health of Vulnerable Populations for an Inclusive Society.

 “We live in a world at odds with itself, with a higher degree of anti-migrant sentiment at any time in living memory. But, at the same time, we have more people forced to move,” he noted.

Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand delivered the opening address at the conference and Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen delivered a keynote speech. “To neglect the health of some while others enjoy healthcare is a sure way to perpetuate social injustice,” he said.

Participants at the conference included stakeholders from government, intergovernmental organizations, academe and civil society.

Discussions focused on the risks faced by often-excluded groups. A common theme raised was the social, economic, and political barriers hindering these groups from accessing affordable, quality healthcare. Key to social inclusion is universal health coverage (UHC), with many using Thailand as an example of having one of the most inclusive healthcare programs in the world.

IOM, the Asian Development Bank and the Joint UN Initiative for Migration and Health in Asia (JUNIMA) co-organized a side meeting on Monday, 30 January, to tackle the importance of health and security among migrant and mobile populations in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.

In coordination with stakeholders working in the region, delegates discussed existing mechanisms, effective practices, challenges, and current research in responding to health security threats, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

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For further information, please contact Montira Inkochasan at IOM Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +66 2 343 9416, Email:

IOM DG Swing addresses delegates at PMAC. Photo: IOM