Tanzania: Stakeholders review migration, health strategy for South West Indian Ocean region

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Stakeholders met Tuesday in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital, to review and endorse an International Organization for Migration (IOM)-facilitated migration and health strategy for the South West Indian Ocean region.

The meeting has brought together representatives from Madagascar’s Ministry of Health, the National Committee against HIV/AIDS, the ministries of Mines, Labour, Interior, and Youth; delegates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO), together with representatives from civil society and the private sector.

“When properly managed, migration can generate positive socioeconomic development at the individual, community, and national level,” IOM said on the conference. “But the migration cycle can also expose migrants to health problems, including increased vulnerability to communicable diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and measles; mental health issues; occupational health and safety issues; and negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes.”

These challenges are particularly evident in the South Western Indian Ocean region. As attractive tourist and investment destinations, with good air and sea access, the island states are currently experiencing an increase in migration which brings economic benefits, but also a unique set of challenges.

In Madagascar, an estimated 100,000 people move from rural areas every year to Antananarivo, congregating in suburban informal settlements that do not have access to basic health services. An increasing number of female migrant workers are also reportedly engaged in sex work to earn an extra income.

In February 2015, IOM in support to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) facilitated a regional meeting of representatives from the Union of the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, and the French island of La Réunion (as an observer) to draw up the first migration and health regional strategy.

That meeting drew national migration and health assessments conducted between October 2014 and January 2015. Another final regional validation workshop with IOC member states will be held early 2016, IOM said.

The strategy aims to improve the management of the health of migrants and migration-affected communities in the IOC region by establishing a list of priority actions to implement by 2017.

In particular, it will focus on developing capacities of member states to develop evidence-based action on migration and health; promoting availability and access to migrant-sensitive health services; facilitating and strengthening coordination and multi-sectoral partnerships on migration and health; and advocating for dedicated national and regional programmes on migration and health.

This initiative is part of the wider Partnership for Health and Mobility in Eastern and Southern Africa (PHAMESA) programme.

Building on nearly 10 years of experience in the region, IOM is implementing the second phase of the PHAMESA programme with financial support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Its overall objective is to contribute to improved standards of physical, mental and social well-being of migrants and migration-affected populations in East and Southern Africa, enabling them to better contribute towards the social and economic development of their communities.
-0- PANA AR 15Dec2015

15 december 2015 14:04:35

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