Pre-departure migrant health assessment forms an integral part of the immigration processes worldwide. Health assessment experts from the countries of origin and destination met for the first time to discuss the current pre-departure health assessment practices, challenges and opportunities for collaboration. This consultation was organized by the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency and was held from 26th to 27th September 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
An important feature was the discussion of the draft Sri Lanka National Guidelines on PDHA, adopting a case study approach.
The 120 international and national participants included experts in the areas of public health, migration health assessment, clinical specialties of chest diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, sexually transmitted diseases, microbiology and labor migration, as well as family physicians and general physicians. There were National program experts from regional countries, and researchers.
The first day of the consultation provided an overview of the importance of practicing migration health assessments as a global public health good and a presentation was made on the development and contents of the final draft of the Sri Lanka National Guidelines. Group work was used to further discuss the National Guidelines, which ended in useful feedback for finalizing.
The focus of the 2nd day of the consultation was a discussion on variations of the health assessment practices and possible linkage with the public health services, to contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage and on identifying recommendations for areas that required further collaboration.
Overall, the two day consultation identified recommendations on general good practice considerations for migrant health assessment programs, to improve the draft Sri Lanka National Guidelines. It also identified key issues and recommendations to improve the health assessment of selected conditions (tuberculosis, STIs, mental health, non-communicable diseases) and possible areas and strategies for collaboration, to make use of PDHA as global public health tools. Noteworthy is the recommendation on the need to harmonize the purpose of Health Assessment Programmes of the countries of origin and destination, which would contribute to the achievement of national and global health targets. All participants and the organizing agencies were of the opinion that the momentum generated at the meeting, to synergize efforts and collaborate on migration health assessment services, needs to be sustained and further promoted at related meetings in the future, including but not limited to, the Consultations of the Colombo Process, ASEAN, SAARC, IOM Council, WHO EB, WHA, UN General Assembly and the Global Forum on Migration and Development.
This report summarizes the issues discussed at the consultation and offers recommendations related to the meeting’s intended outcomes.