Sri Lanka gears up to host Global Consultation on Migrant Health

Health leaders will gather in Colombo for a landmark consultation on migrant health from 21-23 February 2017. The 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health, jointly organized by the Government of Sri Lanka, IOM and WHO, strives to build international solidarity to enhance the health and well-being of migrants and their families.

“The Global Consultation provides an ideal opportunity to reset the international agenda on migrant health based on extraordinary migration trends we are currently experiencing,” highlights Dr Jacob Kumaresan, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka.

The scale of human migration currently witnessed is unprecedented. There are an estimated 1 billion migrants in the world today, including 250 million international migrants and 763 million internal migrants. Some people migrate voluntarily; while others are forcibly displaced, fleeing conflict and war. This has important implications for the health sector.

The health needs of migrants are great, whereas national health systems are struggling to adapt. The Global Consultation provides an important platform for countries to share lessons learned, research and best practices on how to address the complex health needs of migrants at local, national and international level.

Addressing the health needs of migrants reduces long-term health and social costs, enhances health security and contributes to social and economic development.

Sri Lanka is providing leadership on migrant health. It is one of the few countries in the world to have a ‘National Migrant Health Policy’, introduced in 2008. Sri Lanka recognizes the contribution of migrants to national and overseas development.

Almost 2 million Sri Lankans work overseas, the country hosts a large number of immigrants and receives 2 million tourists annually. Ensuring the health of these migrants and the country’s own population is a top priority.

Demonstrating the high level commitment to migrant health, the President of Sri Lanka, H.E. Maithripala Sirisena, IOM Director General, William Lacy Swing, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh and senior government representatives from over 40 countries will take part in this meeting.

The global consultation will lead to the “Colombo Statement,” calling for action on migrant health. This will be shared at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, as 194 countries deliberate on a resolution to protect migrants’ health.

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