IOM DG Swing Addresses 8th World Health Summit in Berlin

Germany -  IOM Director General William Lacy Swing chose the theme: “Migration and Refugee Health: From Care to Policy” this week (10/10) in Berlin in an address to the 8th annual World Health Summit organized by the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the French Republic and the President of the European Commission.

“Migrants have physical and psychosocial needs that need to be addressed both for their own sake, and for the sake of their host societies,” said Ambassador Swing. “Health is, in fact, one of the most important of the components of the integration process. It has an immediate impact on the migrants’ sense of well-being, on their families, on their workplaces and on their social interlocutors. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that healthy migrants are well-integrated migrants.”

Ambassador Swing told the Summit that he believes there are two major global health goals that have direct implications for the health of migrants. First, the reduction of disparities that create and sustain adverse health outcomes. Second, the inclusion of components focused on migrants and mobile populations in all programs designed to manage or mitigate the global spread of diseases or the global burden of disease.

Since it was launched in 2009, the World Health Summit has brought together stakeholders and decision-makers from every field in the healthcare spectrum, providing a forum for exchange with experts from academia, industry, politics and civil society.

“There is, nevertheless, much that remains to be done to ensure that the issue of migrant and refugee health is fully and securely inserted into the Global Compact to be adopted in 2018,” Ambassador Swing said. “This is our job. IOM is working closely with WHO and other agencies to support Member States with technical and policy expertise to develop a Global Compact on Migration.”

He added that the Global Compact on Migration is grounded in the Sustainable Development Agenda, including the Universal Health Coverage target, and listed the following goals:

  • addressing migration from a holistic perspective, including in its health dimension;
  • putting migrants at the center of our consideration;
  • facilitating more opportunities for safe and regular migration;
  • reducing the risks and impacts of unsafe and irregular migration, including trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; and all determinants of ill health of migrants across sectors;
  • promoting genuine partnership between countries of origin, transit and destination of migrants, as well as with civil society, the private sector, migrants and diaspora groups, in a spirit of mutual respect and solidarity.

“Fragmented initiatives rarely produce worthwhile results,” Ambassador Swing concluded.  “We must work together to better understand health aspects of mobility and to develop comprehensive programmes of action.”

For further information please contact Dr. Davide Mosca, Director at IOM HQ, Tel: + 41 22 717 9358, Email: