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Health, migration and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Fortunate Machingura

Briefing/policy paper

This briefing presents an overview of how international migration can have an impact on the sustainable development goal for health and wellbeing. It describes the health needs and health service delivery for migrants and refugees in different settings and highlights the ways they may be excluded in national policies relating to health and from specific policies that work towards achieving the Agenda 2030 on sustainable development.

Key messages

  • There are fundamental policy gaps in addressing the health needs of migrants. Global, regional and national institutional arrangements could be improved to facilitate dialogue and collaborative problem solving.

  • Migration is a determinant of health: it does not have a systemic association with public health security threats to host communities but migrants do face distinctive vulnerabilities to poor health. These are exacerbated by ‘migrant-unfriendly or migrant-indifferent’ legal frameworks and health systems. Resolving these will require intersectoral approaches.

  • There are no international standardised approaches for monitoring variables relating to the health of migrants. Development of data collection, monitoring and surveillance mechanisms is needed to understand migrant health needs.

  • Migration can have a positive effect on the development of health systems if the International Code of Practice is adhered to and there is strong coordination between home and diaspora systems and professionals.

This is the second in a series of policy briefings on the relationship between migration and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Olivia Tulloch, Fortunate Machingura and Claire Melamed