World Health Day forces us to reflect on the habits that could cause a negative effect on our health and on the measures, we must take to minimize the risks to a disease. It forces us to eat better, to perform more physical activity, to avoid stress and fundamentally to perform medical examinations that allow us to detect and treat all kinds of illness in time.
But what happens when people migrate? Many of those factors, habits and conditions that are already known and that determine your health are modified. You can now find multiple administrative barriers to access services, language limitations, stigma and discrimination and many other conditions that will limit access to basic services, thus affecting your health in an important way. There are still inequities very present in the region preventing the adequate access of large population groups to health services, with barriers based on their migratory status, nationality or other conditions.
Therefore, today we must also reflect on the close link between human mobility and health, and how we are responding as a society to everyone's needs. The campaign, promoted this year by the World Health Organization, "Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere" means looking back at those populations that, because of their migratory status, are falling behind. Because of this, I consider it necessary to take action in the following aspects:
- Strengthen joint work in a multi-sectoral manner that guarantees access to quality health services, with cultural appropriation and sensibility to the migrant.
- Formulate policies that guarantee the inclusion of vulnerable populations and eliminate structural barriers that hinder access to universal health.
- Seeking partners, generate alliances, strengthen networks and promote joint and multi-sectoral work that allows us to address issues that merit a regional response, multinational and fundamentally multidimensional.
In Mesoamerica we have a regional and multi-sectoral coordination mechanism that aims to advance these proposals. It is the Joint Initiative of the Health of Migrants and their Families (INCOSAMI) that brings together governments, civil society organizations, regional associations, academia, United Nations agencies and development partners, in order to promote the health and migration agenda in the region.
“Without migrants, including internally displaced people, universal health coverage (UHC) would not be truly universal.” -Jacqueline Weekers, IOM Director of the Migration Health Division.
On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that the access of migrant populations to universal health must also go beyond services. It is about carrying out actions in places where they are located, either in transit or destination communities. This leads us to the need to design prevention and health promotion campaigns with inclusive communication strategies. It invites us to sensitize and train all health personnel and migration authorities about the rights, contexts and conditions of the migration process.
Sobre el autor:
Carlos Van der Laat is the IOM Regional Migration Health Officer for the Americas. Specialist in Family and Community Medicine, he has a Master's Degree in Human Rights and Education for Peace. He has worked for the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the University of Costa Rica, as well as a consultant forespecia the Pan American Health Organization and UNICEF. He specializes in intercultural health, from where he has formulated and coordinated community projects.