Migrant and Refugee Health: an Agenda for Africa.

Session virtual link: Digital Session, Meeting ID: 953 5067 1704

Session abstract

The M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centres, Universities and National Academies has put Migrant and Refugee Health on the agenda of the World Health Summit since 2015. This Panel focuses on exploring and better understanding context-specific national and regional priorities in migration and health in Africa, towards the strengthening of a collaborative platform for research, policy action, responses and partnership. In particular, panelists from key Organizations will help analyzing what the health needs of vulnerable mobile groups in the Region are, what barriers they face in accessing health services, what gaps exist in policy/capacity/resources, what the role of key actors is, and what measures on a regional and continental level would be necessary to put in place.

Globally, Africa is the region of birth of estimated 36 million migrants, 25 million out of whom (i.e., 10 per cent of the global migrant stock, or 2.08 per cent of the whole African population), have migrated within the region. With Asia, Africa is the region of the world with the highest migration increase over the past two decades; a trend set to grow with the continent’s population expected to double by the year 2050, and an overall aspiration enshrined in the African Union Agenda 2063 (The Africa We Want) towards a regional integration, and the free circulation of people, trade, and goods. In 2019, before the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrants in the Sub-Saharan Africa region have sent home through remittances US$ 48 billion, representing roughly 1.8% of the global Africa GDP; this exceeds the OECD Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursed to Sub-Saharan Africa by OECD donors in 2019 and totalling US$ 29 billion. Additionally, UNCTAD estimates that 85 per cent of the benefits of intra-African migration goes to the host country (estimated US$ 215 billion), with the rest going back to origin countries in trade and remittances. Money sent back home by migrants and refugees are spent by families in healthcare, education, livelihood, and small investments benefitting and stabilizing estimated 100 million people. Thus, migration is – with full rights – recognized by the Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA), the Development Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, as a factor of development. Healthy migrants better unleash their capacity to contribute to the economies of their countries of origin and destination, therefore the enjoyment of an equitable access to UHC in their countries of origin, transit or destinations not only represents the fulfilment of a human right, but is a critical factor for socio-economic development, a public health good, and a critical step towards realizing in future the Africa integration. Furthermore, sub-Saharan Africa hosts over one-third of the global displacement population, including some 7 million refugees and 18 million people displaced within their own countries (IDPs), because of conflicts, climate-related disasters, and land degradation. Many others are nomadic, pastoralists, and transnational, and move along transhumance corridors in many areas of the continent. Hundreds of thousands of migrants – including women and unaccompanied children – move in mixed irregular flows and through migration hubs along migorridors, towards medium and high-income countries within and outside the Continent; they often face health risks and death, violence, exploitation, incarceration, and xenophobia. Many others are forcibly returned to home countries after being exposed to trauma and illnesses. Finally, the volume of internal migrants within each African State and globally is not fully quantified, yet migration – either international or national – is significantly contributing to the fast-growing urbanization process in the continent, including in the case of refugees; a phenomenon dense of social and health-related challenges. The nexus between migration, population flows and health is conspicuously more apparent at this time of Covid-19 which permeates all spheres of life; it is exacerbated in Africa by the pervasive spectre of conflicts, systemic fragility, climate change, the impact of irregular migration, all compounded by recurrent outbreaks of illnesses of public health concern, and the shortage of health personnel also partially due to outmigration. Yet, a well-defined regional migrant health agenda is still lacking at policy level. For many migrants and displaced people accessing health services remains a challenge, while the conditions within which they migrate, live and work in, too often act as adverse social determinants of health, making them subject to a variety of health risks.

Dr Sabelo Mbokazi from the Department for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development of the African Union Commission will describe the recently launched new AUC program on Migration and Health aimed at defining Policy and Programming priorities to advance a regional discourse on access to health for migrants and refugees. Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye from WHO/AFRO will discuss the Framework of Principles and Priorities and the WHO Global Action Plan in promoting the health of refugees and migrants, launched by the 72nd World Health Assembly in 2019, as well as crisis-related and public health challenges in the context of displacement and migratory flows. Mr Mohammed Abdiker from the IOM, will touch upon health aspects addressed in the Region by the UN Migration Network (UNMN) in support of Member States implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. Dr. Florine Clomegah, from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will present the IFRC operational framework for involvement in migrant health, and the Federation’s work along migratory routes to support migrants in need of essential services, information and protection. Dr. Waringa Nganga, and Dr. Doris Mpoumou from Save the Children, will illustrate health challenges faced by millions of African children displaced or migrating within and outside the region. Prof. Paul Bukuluki, of the Makerere University, Department of Social Work and Social Administration and Dr. Ursula Trummer, Center for Health and Migration/Wasagasse-Austria together with various partners, are advancing training, capacity development, and research in the field of migration and health in Africa, and are also joining efforts to establish an Africa Centre of Excellence in Migration and Displacement at Makerere. The Chair of the Session, Dr. Jocalyn Clark will introduce Lancet-Migration, – a global collaboration between The Lancet and researchers, implementers, and others in the field of migration and health, that building on the regional approach recommended by the UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health in 2018, aims at addressing evidence gaps through in depth and context-specific national and regional research and dialogue.

Event Timeslots (1)

PD 15

Leave a Reply