Migration is a global phenomenon that has been always present throughout the history of mankind. In recent years, changes in migration flows, scales and routes, along with the evident attention of the?general public has upgraded this area to a priority for the international community.
Driving factors of migration are various, from searching for better life opportunities, forced displacement due to violence and conflicts, political persecution, fleeing poverty and hunger or reuniting with family members.
UN summit on Refugees and Migrants (September 2016, New York) has been a witness of New York declaration’s birth. This document represents the commitment and political will of world leaders to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility on a global scale. The New York declaration also started negotiations leading up to two international documents called Global Compacts – one on regular, safe and orderly migration and the second one on Refugees.
In reaction to migration agenda being in the spotlight of the international community, International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka jointly organized the 2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health in Colombo, Sri Lanka (21-23.2.2017). This event aimed to offer member states, international organizations and other stakeholders a meaningful platform for multi-sectoral dialogue and political commitment to promote the health of migrants. We were trying to find a way to attend this meeting for many weeks, and ultimately we were very happy and honored by the invitation to this event.
What actually happened during those three days in Colombo? The agenda of the meeting was packed with plenary sessions, debates and break out groups on three important areas of migrant health – progress monitoring framework, research agenda and actionable policy objectives.
Marian Sedlak, the Liaison Officer for Human Rights and Peace issues, represented IFMSA and participated in all sessions of the official agenda and in break out group of actionable policy objectives, where the aim was to come up with concrete and implementable policy recommendations. As per IFMSAs policy documents, apart from addressing general human rights approaches, in our interventions we tried to emphasize the importance of intercultural education for medical and non-medical professionals working with migrants to ensure delivery of dignified, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate care. IFMSA was also working on some of its future initiatives connected to for example the World Health Assembly Migrant health stream and IFMSA’s involvement in processes around previously mentioned Global Compacts. Networking at these events also provides IFMSA with unique spectrum of contacts and we really believe that some of the NMOs could benefit from these linkages very soon. 2nd Global Consultation also created a document called Colombo statement which is a political testimony of several governments and ministers who attended this consultation.
On the occasion of this event, IFMSA as a part of World Health Students’ Alliance (together with the International Association of Dental Students (IADS), the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) and the International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA)) created a policy brief on Migration & Youth, which was distributed during the conference among various stakeholders and also shared with our partners. This short document summarized the stance of health students on migrants’ health and a joint commitment to fight for their better future.
In conclusion, in the era of immense toxic narratives against migrants coming out from various political and social sectors, a?huge portion of work lies on shoulders of young people. Health students have been on the forefront of responding to the health needs of migrants, either in policy area or field work. Addressing the health needs of migrants and refugees requires well-functioning multi-sectoral collaboration and innovative solutions, and we really believe that IFMSA and its students can do a significant change towards improving health outcomes for migrants and refugees. So if you want to contribute and try?to make a change, stay tuned for upcoming opportunities on how to be involved in migrants’ health in the IFMSA!