Date Publish: 
Thursday, July 9, 2015

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) promoted, on July 7th and 8th, the Regional Dialogue on Health of Migrants in support of the Ministry of Health of El Salvador (MINSAL) with the Central American Council of Health Ministers (COMISCA) and the World Organization Health (PAHO / WHO), as part of the actions developed in order to endorse the guarantee of fundamental rights of mobile populations.

IOM prioritizes strategic alliances that would allow the development of joint actions with institutions, at regional level, to address the health needs during different phases of the migration process. This event was an example of these associations and helped to recognize that migration is not a health risk, but it is an important determining factor for the welfare of returnees, irregular migrants and the families left in the communities of origin.

The meeting is a platform for 35 representatives of different institutions and governments of Central America, Mexico and Colombia to discuss the main findings of these studies and exchange outstanding experiences in order to integrate the health needs of the migrants in the national and regional plans, policies and strategies.

Studies developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the region have shown that changing factors determine the health of the migrants and the communities they are linked to. For example, in Honduras, 50 percent of those surveyed said that family diseases had worsened after the departure of a relative. In Nicaragua, the returnees claimed to suffer from nervous disorders due to difficulties in the insertion process. Meanwhile, 70.2 percent of returned Salvadorans think that migration poses a risk to their lives, integrity and health. In Guatemala, 27.7 percent of the population that had returned said that they had suffered from hypertension, diabetes, lung or heart disease.

The Regional Dialogue was opened by the Executive Secretary of COMISCA, Julio Valdes; PAHO Representative, Carlos Garzón; the representative of MINSAL, Raul Palomo; and IOM’s Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, Jorge Peraza.

"The aim with this forum is to reflect the particular needs of the migrant population's health.  We have clearly identified that, within vulnerable populations, migrants sometimes are not viewed as such, "said Jorge Peraza. “After all the risks they have been exposed to on their way, what kind of care should be offered to migrants? What are the health services they need? What is the kind of support required? ", continued Peraza.

“There are many challenges of this nature because of several reasons. For example, sometimes, restrictions are placed to limit the access to health services because of lack of papers. There has been significant work done to ensure that health services are provided beyond the need of credentials. Obviously, this involves some action by governments to establish internal policies that would guarantee the right to health over any other bureaucratic internal element,” explained Peraza.

This dialogue takes place within the framework of the project strengthening capacities of governments of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala that aims to address and strengthen institutional capacities to respond to the health needs of migrants, sponsored by IOM Development Fund. The meeting is an activity following the National Dialogues, also supported by IOM, where lines and national action strategies were promoted to improve the sanitary conditions of the migrants.

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For more information, please contact: Alba Miriam Amaya, IOM El Salvador at [email protected].