Sudanese Migrant Returnees to Access Health Insurance

IOM staff in Sudan assisting Sa migrant returnee. Photo: IOM

Khartoum – Abuse, stress and lack of medical care are constant bedfellows for migrants in Libya’s detention camps – and those who are rescued unwittingly transfer the health burden to their countries of origin where assistance is often limited.   

Luckily for Sudanese returnees, a solution is underway. Returning migrants in the country will soon access healthcare under the country’s National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).  

This follows an agreement signed at the end of July with the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. 

A pilot targeting 2,000 Sudanese returnee families will run for a year, beginning in July 2019, and could pave the way for access by all migrant returnees.  

Aside from unemployment and access to housing, lack of access to healthcare is among the main issues faced by migrants who voluntarily return to Sudan, as in other places.  

Sudan has a complex and diverse migration profile as a source, transit and destination country at the centre of multiple migration routes and is host to several migrant populations from neighbouring countries, including seasonal workers.  

According to the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)’s most recent report, covering March to May 2019, Libya is currently hosting at least 641,398 migrants from more than 39 countries. Sudanese migrants account for 11 per cent of the migrant population, after Nigeriens (21%), Egyptians (15%), and Chadians (15%). 

Since its launch in the Horn of Africa in March 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has assisted almost 900 migrants to return to Sudan from Libya. 

However, Libya is not the only country from which migrants have returned to Sudan under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative. IOM has also supported returns from Niger, Algeria and Ethiopia.  

Returnees will now be able to access medical care, thanks to the agreement between the NHIF and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative.  

Until now the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has been funding medical screenings and referring targeted returnees to medical service providers and covering their medical fees. But a systematic access to primary healthcare has been missing. 

The pilot is meant to rectify this by improving access to primary healthcare for the programme’s beneficiaries. The EU-IOM Joint Initiative will pay the participating families’ annual premiums to the NHIF, with the fund being responsible for providing them with health services.  

In particular, the agreement aims to support efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality through enhancing access to medical assistance and preventing unnecessary or long-term complications.  

The EU-IOM Joint Initiative facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused procedures and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. Backed by the EU Trust Fund, it covers and has been set up in close cooperation with 26 African countries. 

Said El Moghira Al Amin, the head of the NHIF’s Directorate of Population Coverage, welcomed the collaboration with IOM, saying: “NHIF considers this as a giant leap towards covering all migrants under its umbrella as well as achieving universal health coverage (UHC) in Sudan.”  

IOM’s Chief of Mission in Sudan, Catherine Northing said: “Providing health care is a crucial issue for returnees. The programme provides comprehensive needs-based assistance to facilitate their reintegration and this new agreement with the National Health Insurance contributes significantly to this.  It will not only provide coverage for the returnees but also their families.” 

For more information please contact Julia Hartlieb at the IOM Regional Office in Nairobi, Tel: +254 734 988 846, Email: