On World Health Day 2022, under the theme “Our planet, our health”, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) supports the UN system efforts to focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy.
Climate change has been described as the biggest global health threat of the 21st century, with a high frequency of climate-related health hazards and fatalities due to malnutrition, and increased propagation of vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and heat stress, among others. The number of people migrating because of the adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation on their livelihoods, daily lives and health, is expected to rise, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia (World Bank, 2021) if we do not take any climate action.
As in many other crises, migrants may be particularly vulnerable to the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on health, due to a lack of access to health care and social services, poor working and living conditions, or limited access to rights and level of inclusion in host communities. Many migrants moving in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters also have specific physical and mental health needs that are linked to their exposure to climate and environmental conditions. More than ever, robust and migrant-inclusive health systems are needed, as acknowledged in the Global Compacts for Migration and Refugees (United Nations General Assembly, 2018) and through Sustainable Development Goal 3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” (United Nations, 2015).