Leaving No One Behind: A Call to Action on Migrant Health

Sri Lanka - Global health leaders yesterday (23/2) adopted the Colombo Statement, which calls for international collaboration to improve the health and well-being of migrants and their families. The move aims to address the health challenges posed by increasingly mobile populations.

The declaration was adopted on the closing day of the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health, hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka, IOM and the World Health Organization (WHO) in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena addressed the meeting, which was attended by senior public health officials from over 40 countries.

“Protecting the health of mobile populations is a public health and human rights imperative. Ensuring the highest attainable standard of health for all, including migrants and refugees, is something we must all strive towards, and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of leaving no one behind,” said WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

With an estimated 1 billion migrants today, or one in every seven people, the health needs of migrants are huge. But health systems are struggling to adapt and consequently access to health services among migrant populations varies widely and is often inadequate.

“Migrant health must be looked at as a global agenda and the SDGs should be interpreted by linking the call to facilitate orderly, safe and responsible migration and mobility of people (SDG 10.7) with the achievement of universal health coverage (SDG 3.8),” said Director of IOM’s Migration Health Division Dr. Davide Mosca. “This can only be realised through the implementation of well-managed and coordinated migration policies, which include financial risk protection and equal access to quality health services.”

Delegates agreed that health systems must be strengthened to provide equitable, non-discriminatory, migrant-centred health services. They noted that addressing the health needs of migrants reduces long-term health and social costs, enhances health security and contributes to social and economic development.

The Colombo Statement calls for mainstreaming migrant health into key national, regional and international agendas and promotes international solidarity for equitable migrant health policies, a shared research agenda and the development of global frameworks to ensure migrant health is protected.

The momentum generated by the Global Consultation will be carried forward to the World Health Assembly – WHO’s annual meeting – in May 2017, where 194 countries will deliberate on priority actions to protect migrants’ right to health.

For further information, please contact Manuela Altomonte at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 76 65 08616, Email: Or Dr. Susie Perera at the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health, Tel: +94 777588944, Email: