Migration and Health

Most migrants in the region are healthy young people. However, in recent years and at a rapid pace, there has been greater presence of vulnerability and other risks in the different stages of the migration cycle.

The conditions and interactions that occur in mobility, such as the potential damage to health, limitations to the satisfaction of basic needs and the violation of human rights, significantly impact on the health and welfare of the migrant as it has less economic, legal, social resources, etc. That is why reducing the vulnerability of migrant populations is an imperative in the pursuit of full respect and ensure the health, welfare and human dignity.

In this context, the resolution WHA 61.17 of the World Health Organization (WHO) calls upon Member States to develop and promote policies and sensitive practices for the health of migrants, taking into account the determinants of the mobile populations' health in the formulation of strategies. In this regard, active participation and commitment of the various government institutions and other stakeholders, is a guarantee for improving the approach to health in migrants from a multisectoral approach.

From the perspective of public health, the link between migration and health involves all phases of the migration cycle, both within communities of origin, transit, destination and return, and all existing mobility patterns including irregular migration and circular migration. The recognition of the status of social vulnerability of mobile populations raises the need to emphasize that what defines the health risks is not migration itself, but the conditions and interactions that occur in the migration process and that place the migrant in a situation of vulnerability and insecurity. In this context, the problems posed by migrants in health arise from the combination of physical and psychological factors, the characteristics of the migration process and social context.

IOM, with its vision of healthy migrants in healthy communities, recognizes the need for more data on the health of migrants and their access to health care to support decision-making based on evidence. To learn more, click here.

Financed by IOM's Development Fund, a regional project is implemented in order to contribute to the strengthening of the governments' capacities in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras so as to answer to the health needs posed by migrants in an irregular situation, returnees and families fragmented by migration, using a multisectoral approach.