Governments Should Recognize Migration as a Social Determinant of Health, says IOM Ahead of Global Conference

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As delegates from governments around the world converge on Rio de Janeiro for the first ever World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, IOM encourages governments to look beyond the traditional social determinants of health such as poverty, education, living and working conditions and recognize that migration is also a social determinant of the health of migrants.
“The way forward for IOM is clear,” says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing, who will take part in the closing session featuring a panel of heads of agencies discussing Social Determinants and the Life Course. “We must first address the myths about migration and acknowledge as a global community that migrants are indispensable to today’s globalized economic and social development.”

“Second, we must recognize that while migrants make important contributions to national and global economies, they are often exposed to conditions during the migration process and upon arrival in destination countries that increase their vulnerability to poor health outcomes.”

Previous global commitments, such as the 2008 World Health Assembly Resolution on the health of migrants have highlighted the importance of addressing the health of migrants in ever growing and diverse society. Yet, putting these commitments into action will require strong government leadership and partnership.

“IOM is committed to partnering with governments to provide the necessary assistance to ensure migrants’ right to health and to overcome challenges such as discrimination and anti-migrant sentiment,” says Swing.

At the conference, governments are expected to adopt a Rio Declaration expressing their commitment to reduce health inequities through action steps addressing social determinants of health.

Within the Rio Declaration, IOM encourages Governments to:

Explicitly recognize migration as a social determinant of the health of migrants.
Strengthen efforts to address health inequities by ensuring that migrants and mobile populations have equitable access to health care and support services regardless of their legal migration status.
Continue to emphasize multi-sectoral partnerships to develop policy coherence in addressing social determinants affecting the health of migrants; these collaborations should include health and non-health actors from migration, labour, housing and education sectors.
Advocate for the removal of discriminatory policies and practices which affect the health of migrants.
Promote the collection of disaggregated data relating to the social determinants of health for migrant populations.
Encourage health policies that foster the integration and participation of migrants and the development of migrant-friendly health services.

from IOM

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