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Building Partnerships for Action

December 9-10, 2019  Health Education Center University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX

The Question of Migration

The world is witnessing an unprecedented increase in human mobility with more than one billion people around the world (one out of every seven) categorized as in-country displaced or international migrants.[1-3] Currently, 48 percent of international migrants are women [2], 72 percent are of working age [4], and 15 percent are less than 20 years old.[2] The majority of international migrants (71 percent) emigrate from South and Central America.[5] Between 1990 and 2013, a remarkable increase in migration occurred in the Americas, with the immigrant population increasing by 78 percent from 34 million to 61 million. This increase in migration throughout the Americas is more than double the increase observed in other parts of the world during the same timeframe. The U.S. was the destination of choice for the majority of these immigrants, with nearly 46 million[6] settling in the U.S. in 2013.

The dramatic and uncontrollable increase in human mobility has affected all countries, either as their status as a country of origin, transit country, or country of destination. The increase in human mobility and its impact on all countries globally has changed the world’s perception of migration and resulted in the broad adoption of migration and human mobility as a result of the current development paradigm. This made migration on the top list of priorities on any international development agenda and created demand for different approach between the South and the North or what is called “Paradox of the Migration-Development Nexus”.[7]

A wide range of factors determines migrants’ health status and access to health care services. These include immigration policies, health policies, health financing models and the organization of the local health care system, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics (age, gender, place of residence, educational level, employment status and conditions, income / financial affordability), social environment (social isolation / networking), and socio-cognitive and cultural factors (health literacy, language, healthcare seeking behavior).[8,9]

Migration of health care personnel remains a major challenge for strengthening national health systems and working towards universal health coverage (UHC) across the Global South. In 2010, the World Health Assembly declared the Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel to promote ethical international recruitment of health personnel and increase the retention through a set of voluntary principles and practices. By 2018, only 113 countries reported to the code, and 40% of them presented or indicated a process of developing national laws and policies that are consistent with the Code.[10]

Improving the health of migrants and their access to health care services as well as the regulation of the migration of healthcare personnel requires multi-level actions at the individual, community, institutional, and societal/policy levels. These sets of interventions should consider the variations among regions and countries in terms of political climate, social protection models, organization, and the financing model of the national health care system. The current document proposes a work plan for the development of a report that identifies and motivates solutions to address the question of the health of migrants (including the internally displaced and refugees).

Objectives and Themes of the Conference

The annual conference on migration and health is designed to provide a platform for constructive policy dialogue among relevant stakeholders. Those include immigrants and organizations representing migrants, law and policy makers, government leaders, health care professionals, the faith community, health system administrators, academicians, researchers, community-based service providers, and international and multilateral organization representatives. The third annual conference in December 2019 will focus on identifying effective strategies and building partnerships to address gaps in policies, knowledge, and implementation related to the following themes:

  • Policies and legislation regulate human mobility and migration
  • The health of migrants and their access to healthcare
  • Integration of migrants in local communities
  • Migration and global health emergencies
  • Migration of health care personnel.

  1. International Organization of Migration (2015). World Migration Report 2015 - Migrants and Cities: New Partnerships to Manage Mobility. International Organization for Migration.
  2. International Organization of Migration (2015) Global Migration Trends: Factsheet. Available from: https://publications.iom.int/system/files/global_migration_trends_2015_factsheet.pdf.
  3. Le Mesurier, S. (2012). The Phenomenon of Migration: Its Significance or Meaning in Human Societies Throughout History. Available from: http://www.ifrc.org/en/news-and-media/opinions-and-positions/speeches/2012/test/.
  4. International  Labour Organization (2015). ILO Global Estimates on Migrant Workers: Results and Methodology - Special Focus on Migrant Domestic Workers.
  5. United Nations (2015). World Population Prospects: Key Findings and Tables.
  6. Organization of American States (2015). International Migration in the Americas: Third Report of the Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas (SICREMI).
  7. Chetail, V., (2010). Paradigm and Paradox of the Migration-Development Nexus: The New Border for North-South Dialogue. German Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 52, pp. 183-215, 2008.
  8. Martinez, O., Wu, E., Sandfort, T., Dodge, B., Carballo-Dieguez, A., Pinto, R., Rhodes, S. D. , Moya, E., and Chavez-Baray, S. (2015). Evaluating the Impact of Immigration Policies on Health Status Among Undocumented Immigrants: A Systematic Review. J Immigr Minor Health. 2015 Jun; 17(3): 947–970. , 2015.
  9. Hacker, K., et al. (2015). Barriers to Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants: A Literature Review. Risk Manag Healthc Policy. 2015; 8: 175–183, 2015.
  10. World Health Organization (2018) WHO Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel: third round of national reporting: Report by the Director-General. Geneva: World Health Organization.