Migrant Health

Human mobility characteristics in this region expose people on the move to health hazards and increased vulnerability to ill health, which might result in increased morbidity and mortality. Thus, IOM supports governments in addressing the health needs of migrants. 

Pre-Migration Health Activities, including Health-Related Travel Assistance

At the request of receiving country governments, IOM provides pre-migration health activities for migrants and refugees in the context of regular international migration, including resettlement, immigration, return, and post-emergency relocation or repatriation. Pre-migration health activities may entail any number of screening, diagnostic, treatment or preventive services, as well as health-related travel assistance.

The overall aim is to identify conditions of public health importance in relation to the International Health Regulations and specific country legislation; establish migrants’ fitness to travel to another country; improve migrants’ health before departure through preventative or curative care; ensure continuity of care linking pre-departure, transit and post-arrival phases; and minimize or mitigate public health risks related to mobility.

Mass Screening and Transfer to Transit Centers

IOM supports early detection and case referral measures through screening of returning migrants. Screening is carried out on mass arrival at borders, on arrival, or during stays in transit centers.

Addressing Health Needs of Migrants

To assist governments in addressing migration- and mobility-related health challenges, IOM conducts projects to provide access to high-quality health services for migrants and undertake studies to promote evidence-based migration health policies.

Vaccination of mobile populations

IOM ensures that people on the move, including refugees, visa applicants, asylum seekers, migrants in irregular situations, and hard-to-reach people such as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable host communities, have proper access to vaccines. Protecting the most vulnerable from health risks is critical for everyone's safety.

Primary Health Care for Migrants and Host Communities

To increase migrants' access to health care and respond to the needs of local populations in key migrant transit areas, IOM provides support to the primary health care system through, for example, the rehabilitation of health facilities and the provision of medical equipment and supplies.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS)

To improve the mental health and psychosocial well-being of migrants, crisis-affected populations and communities, IOM provides MHPSS services and activities, such as deploying mobile teams, conducting focus groups, capacity building (health workers, community leaders, immigration officers, etc.).

Migration and Health from Public Health Perspective

People wash hands

The region is particularly vulnerable to epidemic-prone diseases (EPDs) and outbreaks, and due to the high mobility of populations in the region, a public health event can quickly spread across international borders. IOM uses the Health, Border and Mobility Framework (HBMM) to support governments to meet their public health commitments under the International Health Regulations (IHR), and to strengthen the health systems' capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats using a mobility-centred approach.

IOM achieves this through the following interventions:

Population Mobility Mapping (PMM)

The PMM is an IOM tool under the HBMM framework, which aims to inform interventions related to the prevention, detection, and response to public health emergencies and international health threats, through a better understanding of the dynamics of human mobility and the identification of priority communities and locations that may be vulnerable to public health risks.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Plans

As part of strengthening core public health capacity at points of entry, IOM supports the development of SOPs, including detection, notification, isolation, and management of suspected cases of epidemic-prone disease; and plans such as Public Health Emergency Response Plans (PHERPs), according to the International Health Regulations (IHR).

Capacity Building at Points of Entry: Training

In order to strengthen the capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health events of health, border, and other frontline workers at points of entry, IOM supports the conduct of training (SOPs, PHERPS, ICP, etc.).

Capacity Building at Points of Entry: Simulation Exercise

Following the training of frontline workers, IOM supports the conduct of simulation exercises as part of the strengthening of prevention, detection, and response to public health events at points of entry.

Screening and Referral

IOM aids in establishing and conducting health screening and referral at borders and other spaces of vulnerability where disease transmission risks related to population mobility may be high, when this public health measure is included in national planning to prepare for and respond to a health threat, such as an epidemic.

Community Events-based Surveillance (CEBS)

To strengthen the capacity of border communities to detect, notify, and respond to public health events, IOM supports health authorities in conducting CEBS activities, such as developing tools and guides, training community health workers, and collecting data.

Multi-sectoral and Cross-border Coordination

To strengthen multi-sectoral and cross-border coordination in communicable disease preparedness, prevention, detection and response, IOM supports cross-border collaboration meetings and development of related documents, such as cross-border memorandums of understanding and SOPs.

Capacity Building and Logistical Support to the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)

IOM provides support to the EOCs, including health crisis management organizations, through capacity building and logistical support activities, such as establishing/rehabilitating centers and providing equipment, conducting health emergency management training for health workers, and developing SOPs.

Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE)

IOM conducts health-related RCCE activities, particularly as part of community-based preparedness and response to ensure that populations at risk are well-informed on how to avoid infection, prevent transmission, and seek care. These activities include the development of information materials that include migrants and RCCE campaigns.

Infection, Prevention, and Control (IPC) and Water Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH)

To prevent disease transmission, IOM undertakes IPC measures such as providing basic equipment including disinfectants and personal protection equipment. IOM also implements WASH interventions, including installing handwashing facilities at PoEs, health facilities, transit centers, and other vulnerable areas.

Provision of Infrastructure and Supplies

IOM contributes to field operations expertise to emergency response efforts, engaging with government and partners to support the procurement and distribution of essential supplies and rehabilitation or construction of infrastructure at PoEs, such as equipped observation/isolation sites.