How the World Health Organization and the World Can Promote the Health of Vulnerable Refugees and Migrants: Part III – Recommendations

Health For All. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Montgomery Collins.

 

Recommendations to consider during the revision of the Global Action Plan (Promoting the health of refugees and migrants draft global action plan, 2019-2023) at the Seventy-second World Health Assembly (WHA72) May 20-28, 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland:

  • Emphasize promoting health, providing healthcare, and protecting healthcare rights in refugees and migrants in partnership with Member States.
  • Rename the document The Global Action Plan for Protecting Health Rights, Promoting Health, and Providing Healthcare for Refugees and Migrants.
  • Prioritize the care and nutrition of pregnant women and newborns, particularly at critical times, like childbirth, that pose a threat to the survival of both mother and child.
  • Support nutrition, growth, and development programs for infants and children affected by migration.
  • Emphasize the health of children and adolescents and establish fair and transparent processes for unaccompanied children and adolescents to receive care.
  • Develop child-sensitive procedures, where possible, that prevent family separation and reunite families whenever family separation occurs.
  • Adopt standing orders and enlist mobile healthcare teams, pharmacies, and translators to provide migrant and refugee populations with early aid items such as mass vaccines, oral rehydration solution packets, basic wound care supplies, and essential medicines that can complement the immediate humanitarian aid (water, food, shelter, sanitation, and safety) supplied by the UNHCR and IOM and that can then provide medium- and longer-term support.
  • Create mobile units that can assist host countries with the influx of new migrant or refugee patients and can help enroll them into the existing local healthcare system.
  • Coordinate WHO relief under the Global Action Plan with other services provided by UNHCR and IOM, and require UNHCR and IOM to continuously promote reentry into national or local healthcare systems.
  • Encourage partnerships between academia, diaspora, private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations with migrating and refugee populations in local communities.
  • Encourage Member States to explore alternatives to detention in non-custodial contexts, favoring community-based care arrangements, that will ensure access to healthcare, education, and employment for refugees and migrants.
  • Prohibit States from keeping any refugee or migrating person in a detention center for longer than 30 days, due to the physical and mental health consequences of long-term detention.

 

This blog post was written by Elizabeth Montgomery Collins, MD, MPH, DTM. Dr. Collins is a member of the Global Health Council’s President’s Advisory Council and has served on several occasions as an individual delegate to the World Health Organization Executive Board meetings and the World Health Assembly.

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