National Consultation on Migrant Access to Health Services
IOM, the National Department of Health, the Forced Migration
Studies Programme (FMSP), University of Witwatersrand, and the
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), are hosting in
Pretoria a two-day national consultation on "Realising Migrants'
Right to Health in South Africa".
The conference, which opens on 22 April, will bring together key
players from the government, international organisations, academia,
civil society, and the migrant community, to exchange information
and improve health coordination and service delivery to migrants in
Traditionally migration flows in South Africa were mostly
internal from rural to urban areas. However, regional migration
patterns have recently increased lately. Both internal and
cross-border migration are increasingly recognised as key
determinants of health, requiring appropriate public health
responses to ensure the well-being of all migrant populations.
Whilst the right to access healthcare is guaranteed by the South
African constitution, and extends to all migrants regardless of
their documentation status, many undocumented migrants are often
reluctant to seek medical assistance due to factors such as the
cost of healthcare services, fear of deportation, language barriers
and attitudes of healthcare service providers towards migrants.
Jo Vearey, Researcher at the Wits Forced Migration Studies
Programme says, "Even though the Department of Health has taken
steps to clarify that cross-border migrants have the right to
access basic healthcare, migrants continue to face challenges in
accessing care. There are clear gaps between policy and
The South African consultation on migrant health is a follow-up
to the March 2010 Madrid Global Consultation, and seeks to:
consolidate existing knowledge on migrant health issues in the
country; develop a future programme, policy and research agenda;
explore processes for contributing to regional structures and
initiatives; and to link these efforts with the implementation of
the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on the health of
The consultation is funded by UNAIDS through the UNAIDS
Programme Acceleration Fund (PAF).
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