Missing: Where Are the Migrants in Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans?

Author/s: Kolitha Wickramage, Lawrence Gostin, Eric Friedman, Phusit Prakongsai, Rapeepong Suphanchaimat, Charles Hui, Patrick Duigan, Eliana Barragan, David Harper
Language: English
Publication Type: Scientific Report (Journal)(External)

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Novel influenza viruses continue to emerge, posing zoonotic and potentially pandemic threats. Many countries have developed pandemic influenza preparedness plans (PIPPs) aimed at guiding actions and investments to respond to such outbreak events. In our analysis of PIPPs from 21 low to middle-income countries, we found only three that identified strategies for at least one migrant group.   
PIPPs that are migrant inclusive enable greater public health protection for all. The majority of human cases of influenza A (H5N1) infection have been associated with direct or indirect contact with infected live or dead poultry. Worldwide, international migrant workers are overrepresented in sectors such as poultry farming and related industries. Migrant workers also represent a possible “bridge population” for viral spread—defined as a population transmitting infection from a high-prevalence group to individuals who would otherwise be at low risk of infection—when they travel to their place of origin. It is thus imperative to understand the linkages between formal and informal migration routes with networks of migrant labor in animal husbandry and related industries for instance in order, to develop evidence-informed policies that anticipate and prevent the emergence of novel zoonosis.   
Migration governance rests upon the fulcrum of national sovereignty, whereas pandemics and other novel diseases transcend local, national, and regional boundaries.  In reiterating the call of the Sustainable Development Goals to “leave no one behind” and to address global health security in a meaningful way, we contend that irrespective of a person’s migrant status, his or her access to health services and social protection must be included within pandemic preparedness and response efforts. 
IOM Contributors: Kolitha Wickramage (Manila), Patrick Duigan (Bangkok), Eliana Barragan (Geneva) 
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Health and Human Rights Journal