IOM Supports Migrants’ Equitable Access to Healthcare in South Africa

Migration Health

South Africa - Government employees and civil society representatives convened this week (22-23/11) in Johannesburg for the third National Migration Health Consultation to discuss South Africa’s progress in responding to the HIV epidemic. The national consultations have been held since 2010 to discuss equitable access to the public health system in South Africa.

Participants shared lessons learned and identified areas that still need to be strengthened, based on conclusions drawn from the last two consultations. They concluded that much still needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of all migrants in South Africa, irrespective of their legal status in the country.

Participants lauded the work of “change agents”, the front-line workers who are key to implementing the policies and programmes formulated by the legislative arms of government at national and provincial levels.

The IOM change agent model enables peers to become communicators and advocates for change, rather than just educators. As such they respond to local needs rather than predetermined assumptions. Change agents are ordinary members of communities who are committed to serving their communities as agents of change.

IOM has been providing technical support to the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) to address the issue of HIV among migrants and mobile populations. In 2014, a National Forum was established to consolidate the efforts of IOM and the government in this area.

In addition, IOM has continued to work with local implementing partners in various sectors, such as commercial agriculture, to reduce HIV and TB vulnerabilities amongst migrant seasonal workers and the community at large.

“South Africa has progressive policies and strategies. However, these are not always translated into practical implementation, and this is what dialogue should focus on,” said IOM South Africa Chief of Mission Richard Ots.

“Access to healthcare for migrants is extremely important because many migrants work 3D jobs – difficult, dangerous, dirty. Working closely with service providers on the ground to equip them with the information and tools to serve migrants and communities is key to ensure migrants have equitable access to healthcare,” he added.

For further information please contact Lerato Tsebe at IOM South Africa, Tel: +27 72 127 7094, Email:

Participants at the National Migration Health Consultation in Johannesburg, South Africa.