Progress made and challenges faced by the Government of Sri Lanka on advancing the resoluton on 'Health of Migrants", adopted 25th of January 2008 at the 122th session of the World Health Assembly.
Since the WHA resolution was passed, the Government of Sri Lanka has progressed rapidly in developing a National Agenda on the Health of Migrants, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health. The Presidential manifesto, the “Mahinda Chintanya” also makes specific commitments to the health and social protection of migrants and their families. Recognizing that migration health has multi‐sectoral determinants and impacts, an Inter‐Ministerial ‘whole of Government approach’ involving 12 key Government Ministries has been adopted to advance Sri Lanka’s Migration Health Agenda. A technical working group which regularly meets as a Migration Health Taskforce (MHT), and a high level National steering committee on Migration Health (NSC) chaired by the Secretary of Health to make policy and program decisions have been developed. A permanent secretariat has been established within the Ministry of Health with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to act as the coordinating hub. Through these coordinating frameworks, the Government of Sri Lanka has also proactively responded to the emerging migration health related challenges the nation faces. For instance, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of External Affairs and Government Administrators is leading a health program on returning refugees from India, and with the Immigration Controller General looking at establishing a Visa Health Unit. After a series of technical reports to further advance an evidenced based agenda, a high‐level decision was taken that Sri Lanka develops a “National Migration Health Policy” within a whole‐of‐government approach. A commitment was taken that this National policy and concomitant programs would not be limited to only Labour migration, but also address the health issues of outbound, inbound and internal migration, and focus on health impacts through the migration cycle (pre‐departure, travel, at destination and upon return). The health and social impacts of migration on the ‘families left behind’, will also be taken into consideration via policy and practice frameworks. The Ministry of Health with the support of the IOM has also commissioned a National Research Study on Migration Health, to gather an evidence‐base for policy formulation, and has also been active in regional forums (e.g. Colombo Process) and Global forums (e.g. Global forum on Migration and Development) in advancing Sri Lanka’s agenda on migration, health and development.