Migration, Health and Development in Sri Lanka


Migration has always been an integral part of Sri Lanka, driving our nation's progress and economic development. Today, there are more people 'on the move' than at any other time in recorded history. Over 2 million Sri Lankans are employed overseas and they contribute the highest foreign exchange earnings to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming a labour receiving country, with growing numbers of resident visa holders arriving each year. The Government of Sri Lanka have been working in close partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to ensure better health and development outcomes for all flows of migrant populations (inbound, outbound and internal) and the families they leave behind.

 For further information;

1. Dr.K Wickramage

Email: kwickramage@iom.int 

2. Dr.S.L Peiris

Email: speiris@iom.int

International Organization for Migration (IOM)



For further information:

1. Dr.K. Wickramage   
Email: kwickramage@iom.int

 

2. Dr.S.L.Peiris
Email: speiris@iom.int

 

Milestones of the Migration Health and Development process
in Sri Lanka


A Journey Through the Migration Health Policy Development Process 2009 to 2012


01st May 2008:

122nd Session of Executive Board of World Health Assembly

Endorsement of the Resolution on "Health of Migrants". Member countries were invited to develop Migrant friendly health environment (A61/17).

22nd May 2009:

Sri Lankan Government Commitment to driving a National Agenda secured

With expressed endorsement and leadership from Minister of Health, Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva, Chairman of the Executive Board WHO, and the president of the 62nd WHA, the Government of Sri Lanka forms partnership with IOM to establish a migration, health and development programme in Sri Lanka.

17th November 2009:

Initiating the formative phase for establishing the ground work for the migration, health and development program

  • A joint MOH-IOM team undertook a series of key stakeholder meetings in order to acquiring basic knowledge on the health and social impacts of migration. A rapid mapping of available services was also undertaken during this process.
  • For instance, meetings with Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), visit to welfare home for returnee migrant workers “Sahana Piyasa”, SLBFE pre departure training center at Ratmalana, BOI, Department of Immigration & Emigration, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Defense etc
  • A Rapid Situation Analysis (RSA)/desk review was also completed to define a conceptual framework on migration health for Sri Lanka. This framework gave rise to the concepts of “inbound”, “internal”, “outbound” migrant flows.
 
 
06th January 2010:

IOM commitment to developing Sri Lanka’s MHD agenda

At the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, IOM through its 1035 member state funding facility, agreed to provide technical and financial assistance to catalyze the MHD agenda for Sri Lanka.

The technical partnership was consolidated via a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Health and IOM on 6th January, 2010.

01st March 2010:

Global Consultation on Migrant Health, Madrid, Spain

The aim of this Global consultation was to seek ways to ensure the practical implementation of the WHA resolution on Health of Migrants adopted in 2008.

To this end, the Global consultation provided a forum to

  1. Review the obstacles
  2. Generate global data on the health of migrants
  3. Identify policies and legislation that advances the health of migrants
  4. Identify key actions to create migrant-sensitive health systems, and
  5. To develop/strengthen national, regional and global platforms to advance the migration health agenda.

IOM supported the Ministry of Health in participating at this landmark meeting, and contributed to the report resolutions.

26th April 2010:

1st National Consultation for Migration, health and development in Sri Lanka

Key stakeholders such as government ministries, academics, UN agencies, NGOs, foreign employment agencies got together at the launching officiated by the Hon. Minister of Health. Conceptual framework for the national migration, health and development programme was endorsed at this meeting

01st May 2010:

1st Inter Ministerial/Agency coordination framework was established

Migration Health Secretariat was established within the Ministry of Health to function as the permanent coordinating hub. Technical focal points from the each stakeholder agency were identified and Migration Health Task Force was established to formulate the policy documents and the technical proposals to be submitted at the NSC which is the highest level decision making body on policy matters and the inter ministerial coordination issues.

24th May 2010:

1st Migration Health Task Force (MHTF) meeting

Focal points from more than 10 government ministries, UN agencies and academia congregated and discussed to come to terms with issues in all domains of migration, issues in existing policies and implementation and devise the final composition of MHTF and NSC with revision of terms of reference for each of these bodies.

25th May 2010:

Representation at the regional and international scientific forums

International Epidemiological Association (IEA) conference

A joint MoH/IOM symposium on “MIGRATION HEALTH, CHALLENGES AND PERSPECTIVES” was held and the plenary speech was given by the IOM Global head on migration health and Development at global and regional level”.

Asia Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health - 5th June 2010 , Colombo

Symposium on Migration Health Research and Development was conducted in the view of improvement of evidence base for policy and programmes.

Scientific paper presented at the 5th AAAH conference in Bali – October 2010

Best scientific paper award received for the paper presented at the Annual Sessions of the College of Medical Administrators March- 2011

25th June 2010:

1st National Steering Committee Meeting on Migration, Health and Development

National Steering Committee comprising of the highest level of decision makers including the Secretary/Director General level representatives of the key government ministries involved in migration.

Key issues to be addressed by the Migration Health Development process and the Terms of Reference of the Migration Health Task Force and proposed coordination mechanism were endorsed at this meeting.

13th July 2010:

1st regional discussion on health challenges of the Asian labour migration

Members of the Migration Health Task Force participated at the Regional Dialogue on the Health Challenges for Asian Migrant workers which was an inter country meeting with labour sending countries. A set of Joint recommendations to be followed at national and bi lateral, regional and global level recommendations were agreed upon to be submitted at the 5th Colombo Process meeting

01st September 2010:

Initiation of establishment of the health assessment for the resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka

Controller General/ Department of Immigration and Emigration solicited technical assistance from the migration health task force to establish health assessment for the resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka

A sub committee with technical expertise from vertical health programmes was appointed to develop technical guidelines to lay out the implementation plan

01st November 2010:

4th meeting of the Global Forum on migration and development

Members of the Migration Health Task Force represented migration health and development programme at the global level

01st October 2010:

Ministry of Health and IOM meets Controller General, Department of Immigration and Emigration

Discussion was conducted on establishment of health assessment for the resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka

01st November 2010:

4th Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development

A Sri Lankan government delegation comprised from the ministries of Labour, Health and Foreign Employment and Migration Health Task Force represented Sri Lanka for the 1st time at global level

01st January 2011:

Launching the national research agenda- an evidence based policy process

National Migration Health Task Force/IOM commissioned national research on “Health Issues pertaining to migration” across four domains of migration i.e.: internal, out bound, inbound and families left behind on health and social issues of migration to provide imperative data to ensure evidence based migration health policy process

28th February 2011:

Treasury approval of the concept note on establishment of health assessment for the resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka

Following series of technical meetings with wide range of experts and extensive review of the literature, a technical guidance note was developed on health assessment for resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka, which was proposed to be established to prevent public health emergency and to reduce health care cost to public health sector.

01st March 2011:

3rd National Steering Committee meeting- Official endorsement of the establishment of the Health Assessment for the resident visa applicants

Technical guidelines to establish the health assessment for the resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka was officially endorsed by the NSC and decision was made to submit a cabinet paper and a technical paper for the approval of the parliament

04th April 2011:

4th Colombo Process-Discussion on Health of the migrants for the first time

Ministerial consultation in Bangladesh, Dhaka - in the view of promoting rights ,welfare, dignity, services and emergency responses, and enhanced dialogue along with cooperation among labour sending, receiving and transit countries.

Ministry of Health Sri Lanka presented the Health Issues of Out-bound Migration, which included gaps in Services and Policies

16th May 2011:

Nations 1st report card on WHA resolution on Health of Migrants

Hon. Maithreepala Sirisena, Minister of Health, presented the report card on Sri Lanka’s progress on WHA resolution on Health of migrants which was applauded by the member states and discussions are underway to request the member countries to submit annual reporting to the WHA.

01st July 2011:

Learning about the immigration health assessment and the health assessment of the refugees

Study visit to IOM, Damak, Nepal provided greater exposure to the global best practice on Immigration health assessment

17th September 2011:

High level Ministry of Health and IOM meeting in Geneva

Hon. Minister of Health agreed to provide highest level commitment and DG IOM committed for the continued technical assistance to pursue the migration, health and development agenda at the country, regional and global level.

13th October 2011:

Ensure evidence based policy process

Key findings of the national research on 4 domains of migration (Inbound, Outbound and Internal migration and Families Left Behind) were disseminated among wide range of stakeholders from different disciplines at the national scientific symposium held on 13th October.

Sensitizing returning Sri Lankan refugees on importance of health

To achieve this, a health awareness booklet was launched to be distributed among the returning Sri Lankan refugees. This booklet, printed in Tamil, the native language of the refugees consisted of health messages on a wide range of topics such as protection from landmines, accessing emergency care and primary health care. The booklet was launched by the Hon. Lalith Dissanayake Deputy Minister of Health and handed over to the Hon. Governor of the Northern Province- Major General G.A.Chandrasiri.

19th December 2011:

Launch of the web portal- "Migration Health and Development"

The web portal on Migration Health and Development in Sri Lanka was co-launched by Dr Ravindra Ruberu, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Mr Richard Danziger, Chief of Mission, IOM, at the event held in Auditorium, Family Health Bureau with the presence of key stakeholders of Different Ministries, academia and media personnel.The website contains latest news related to migration and health, and all the information on policy process and research pertaining to policy development, along with the publications related to field and important to Sri Lanka which can be downloaded directly, and a collection of images related to development of the National Policy on Migration and Health. This will act as the knowledge hub for any person involved in the field.

The launch was followed by media seminar, during which the research findings, done specifically with the intention of evidence based policy process and the current state of the National Policy on Migration Health was distributed to key persons and Media.

30th September 2013:


Sri Lanka National Migration Health Policy was launched on 30th October 2013 

The National Migration Health Policy was launched in Colombo by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health (MOH) as a result of three and half years of effort and collaboration between the Government of Sri Lanka and IOM.

The health impact on migrant and mobile populations from internal, outbound and inbound migration has been systematically examined over the past few years through undertaking public health research thanks to the solid partnership between IOM, the Ministry of Health and research experts inSri Lanka.

The most important feature for the success of the migration health process in Sri Lanka was the establishment of a solid institutional mechanism which has the full support from all Government departments and is constructed with foundations of empirical research – a rarity these days with opinions, not evidence, governing policy making.

Inter-Ministerial & Inter -Agency Coordination Framework for Migration Health Development in Sri Lanka


Please click on a circle to view details.

 

Multi- stakeholder, Inter-Ministerial and evidence based approach to develop Migration Health Policy for Sri Lanka supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) led by the Ministry of Health 

 

Since the adoption of the WHA resolution on “Health of Migrants” in 2008, the Government of Sri Lanka has progressed rapidly in developing the national agenda on migration health development. Recognizing that migration health has multi-sectoral determinants and impacts, the Migration Health Development programme was launched in 2009 in Sri Lanka. This programme, spearheaded by the Ministry of Health adopted a whole of government approach involving 12 key Government Ministries to advance the Sri Lanka’s Migration Health Agenda.

Inter-ministerial coordination mechanism has achieved remarkable progress in a very short amount of time. The Migration Health Taskforce (MHT) comprise with technical focal points from each key agency meets regularly to discuss the issues related to programme implementation and a high level policy decision are taken by the National steering committee on Migration Health (NSC) chaired by the Secretary of Health. A secretariat has been established within the Ministry of Health (MOH) with the support of IOM to act as the permanent coordinating hub.

Through this coordination framework, the Government of Sri Lanka has also proactively responded to the emerging migration health related challenges faced by the nation, such as the health services provision for returning refugees and the health assessments of the resident visa applicants to the country.

IOM supports the Ministry of Health’s Migration Health Strategy through the following broad areas of work:

  • Enhancing technical capacity of the Ministry of Health to integrate migration health in the national, regional and global agendas, and to manage various migration health challenges;
  • Development of a National migration health policy for Sri Lanka within a evidenced-based research agenda.
  • Developing and enhancing technical cooperation on health assessment and health promotion for mobile at risk populations and migrants.

 

 

 For further information;

1. Dr.K Wickramage

Email: kwickramage@iom.int 

2. Dr.S.L Peiris

Email: speiris@iom.int


International Organization for Migration (IOM)

 

Research Related to Migration, Health and Development in Sri Lanka


Please click on an icon to view details.

 

  • Out bound migration: Refers to the movement of people out of the country and encompasses categories such as Labor migrants, irregular migrants, trafficked victims, unregistered workers etc.
  • In bound Migration: Refers to people moving into the country, and encompasses categories such as students, foreign migrant workers, tourists, returning refugees and failed asylum seekers etc.
  • Internal Migration: Refers to the flow of people within a country’s internal borders, and includes categories such as free-trade zone workers, those workers in Board of Investment (BOI) industrial zones, seasonal workers, internally displaced people and students.
  • Families left behind: refers to the potential health and social impacts for families of migrant workers (e.g. nutritional neglect of children).

 

As an island nation at an important geographical location at the heart of the Indian Ocean, migration has always been an integral part of Sri Lanka, be it by traders or colonial invaders. With the end of a protracted civil conflict in early 2009, Sri Lanka now prepares to embrace a new chapter of lasting peace and development. The ruling Government’s Political Manifesto “Mahinda Chintanaya” places strong emphasis on migration as a key engine for economic development. With booming investments, enhanced tourist numbers, increased international connectivity via newly developed international sea and airports, rising numbers of Sri Lanka’s labour migrant workforce to regions beyond gulf states, growing numbers of foreign workers for state and investment projects in Sri Lanka, increasing internal population mobility via road, rail and port networks and the concomitant rise in rural to urban sprawl, Sri Lanka is truly a country ‘on the move’ with global connectivity…perhaps more than any other time in the Nation’s history.

Sri Lankan health authorities have increasingly become aware of the major migration health challenges, particularly in meeting the health demands of the various types of migrant and mobile populations. The Government have been working in close partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) since 2009 to ensure better health outcomes for the 3 flows of migrant populations (inbound, outbound and internal) and their families.

 For further information;

1. Dr.K Wickramage

Email: kwickramage@iom.int 

2. Dr.S.L Peiris

Email: speiris@iom.int

International Organization for Migration (IOM)

 

Regional, Global and Scientific forums on migration, health and development relevant to Sri Lanka


Regional Forums

  • Colombo process meeting

  • The Colombo process functions as an inter-ministerial coordinating body for safe and effective migration of workers. The inaugural meeting was held in 2003 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    Reports of the Colombo process


  • Forum pertaining to Colombo Process

  • Regional dialogue on health challenges for the Asian labour migrants

    This multi-stakeholder meeting was conducted in Bangkok in 2010 to discuss the health challenges and priorities associated with labour migration in, and from, South and Southeast Asia.

    Report on the proceedings of the Regional Dialouge.



    Global Forums


  • World Health Assembly (WHA)

  • Acting as the decision making body of World Health Organization (WHO), WHA focuses on specific health agendas prepared by its executive committee. During the 61st WHA, which was chaired by Sri Lanka, the resolution on "Health of Migrants" was adopted.

    Health of Migrants resolution


  • Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD)

  • An informal, non-binding, voluntary and government led initiative of the United Nations Member states to address the migration and development in an action oriented way.

    Documents library, GFMD


  • Global consultation on health of migrants 2010

  • Guided by the resolution on health of migrants from 61st WHA, the IOM and Ministry of Health and Social Policy of Spain organized a global consultation on Migrant Health in 2010, with the participation of government and other resource agencies/persons to formulate data on migration, legislation and actions on health of migrants and to encourage dialogue between various sectors involved in migration

    Report of global consultation


    Scientific Forums


  • International epidemiological association conference- a special scientific session on migration and development during the 10th Southeast Asia regional scientific meeting

  • Held in 2010, at a crucial time to the region which is experiencing social, epidemiological, and demographic transitions, the meeting was themed to promote use of best evidence in making decisions about planning and delivery of health services


  • Asia Pacific Academic Consortium on Public Health (APACPH) (global health conference Sri Lanka)

  • APACPH is committed to improve professional education for public health to tackle unique public health challenges of the Asia Pacific region, including health of migrants. The session highlighted the importance for academic community to engage in research surrounding migration, health and development and to provide an evidence base for policy and programmes

    Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health

    Publications related to Migration, Health and Development


    Sri Lankan Publications



    Regional Publications



    Global Publications

    Image Gallery


     
    Stakeholder Consultation on Developing a National Contingency Plan on Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC) for Sea Ports

    As a follow up to the stakeholder consultative meeting to discuss the coordination framework in managing PHEIC, a consultation on developing a national contingency plan on PHEIC for sea ports was held at the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo on 17th March 2015.

     

     
    “Ministry of Health Sri Lanka with technical and financial assistance from IOM held a multistakeholder consultative meeting on 12th February in Colombo to develop a coordinated response to address Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC).

    Identifying the importance of enhancing border health in Sri Lanka, around forty stakeholders from several government and international organizations participated at this meeting. Among the participants, there were representatives from Ministry of Defence, Department of Immigration, Atomic Energy Authority, Sri Lanka Navy, Customs, Coast Guard, etc Major focus of the consultation was to develop simulation exercise related public health emergency, to be implemented at the ports of entry in order to streamline the coordinated response.”

     

     
    The launch of the standard Operating Procedures for health officials at the ports of entry

    The launch of the standard Operating Procedures for health officials at the ports of entry,Which was held at the “Golden Pond” Taj Samudra Hotel Colombo on 7th March 2014 With the participation of the Secretary Health and the other stakeholders.

     

     
    Launch of the National Migration Health Policy

    The National Migration Health Policy was launched in Colombo by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health (MOH) as a result of three and half years of effort and collaboration between the Government of Sri Lanka and IOM. The health impact on migrant and mobile populations from internal, outbound and inbound migration has been systematically examined over the past few years through undertaking public health research thanks to the solid partnership between IOM, the Ministry of Health and research experts in Sri Lanka.

     

     
    Launch of the Web portal and Media Seminar (December 2011)

    The web portal dedicated to provide information on Migration, Health and Development to any person who is involved/interested in the field was co-launched by the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Chief of Mission, IOM, Sri Lanka. The media seminar distributed the achievements of the process so far along with research findings, and future goals.

     

     
    National Scientific Symposium on Migration Health (October 2011)

    The findings of national research across four domains of migration (inbound, outbound, internal and families left behind) were dispersed to ensure evidence based policy process, in the presence of stake holders from different key disciplines related to migration, health and development.

     

     
    Evaluation of Research Studies (October 2011)

    Research related to migration health were evaluated to produce recommendations to the policy process

     

     
    Hon. Minister's visit to Geneva (September 2011)

    Highest level commitment of the ministry of health on pursuing migration health and development agenda at the country, regional and global level

     

     
    Meeting with Controller General- Immigration (October 2010)

    During this meeting the de3sicion came on establishment of Health assessment for resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka

     

     
    Regional Dialogue on the Health Challenges for Asian Migrant workers-Bangkok (July 2010)

    Sri Lankan delegates participated in the view of pursuing migration, health and development at the regional level

     

     
    National Steering Committee (June 2010)

    Highest level commitment from key government ministries, which includes Secretary/ Director General level stakeholders from all the ministries of Sri Lanka related to Migration, Health and Development

     

     
    Migration Health Task Force (MHTF) meeting (May 2010)

    The main aim was the establishment of the inter-ministerial/inter-agency coordination framework to implement the migration, health and development programme in Sri Lanka. First meeting was held on 24th of May, 2010, and continued to have meetings thereafter on the basis of requirement.

     

     
    National Migration Health Development Programme (April 2010)

    Migration, health and development programme in Sri Lanka was officially launched on 26th of April 2010

     

    Video Gallery


    2016 / 09 / 07



    69th Session of the Regional Committee meeting of the South East Asian Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) (WHO-SEARO) chaired by His Excellency Dr. Rajitha Senarathna minister of health services of Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Sri Lanka was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 5th to 9th September 2016.

    Migration and health was included as agenda as item 9.9 for the first time in the history of the WHO – SEARO regional committee meetings. Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region accompanied by the other Member States: Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand also took part in this dialog by sharing statements outlining the country’s experience on migrant health.

    Dr Sharika Peiris, Programme Manager of the Migration Health Unit of the International Organization for Migration Sri Lanka, read out a statement on migration and health, highlighting the prominence of physical and mental wellbeing of migrants irrespective of their migration status in order to capitalize migrant’s contribution to the socio economic development of both their countries of origin and destination within the SEARO region.

    Speaking on behalf of International Organization for Migration, Dr Sharika highlighted that the ‘Colombo Process’, recommended migrant health to be included in the Colombo Process as a new thematic priority for the region and their dialogues. Furthermore she mentioned that this is the time to reset the migrant health agenda and enhance inter regional collaboration as the SDG recognized migration health as an essential aspect in healthy society for the first time.

    It was also noted that “Migration is not a problem to be solved, but an opportunity to be managed”. Therefore the International Organization for Migration is passionate to support the Member States, WHO, and other partners towards multi-faceted health challenges that appear throughout all stages of migration across various groups of migrants towards the actual universal health coverage for migrants and refugees.


    2016 / 08 / 25



    Dr. P. G. Mahipala, Director General of Health Services (DGHS), of the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka, made an intervention at the 5th Ministerial Consultation of the Colombo Process, emphasizing the need to include the health of labor migrants, into relevant dialogues.  The Colombo Process is a regional consultative process on the management of overseas employment and contractual labor for countries of origin in Asia.

    Speaking on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka/ Ministry of Health, Dr. Mahipala highlighted the importance of positive health behaviors and healthcare access to ensure the health of migrants. He also noted that, while there are many opportunities within the identified Five Key thematic areas of the Colombo Process to address some of the health issues, there are many other health issues that may not come under the exact definition of existing thematic areas, and suggested that a separate thematic area to comprehensively address health concerns of labour migrants.

    Read the more of the Statement and the Technical brief on ‘Addressing Health Challenges in Labor Migration’.

    2016 / 07 / 11



    Public health officials attached to the points of entry ports were sensitized on Global Health Security as a part of the Quarterly Progress Review and In-Service Training Programme of the Quarantine Unit, Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine. This training was held on the 05th of July 2016 in the Auditorium of the Ministry of Economic Development Building.

    This meeting was attended by a panel of resource persons from relevant organizations and Medical Officers (MOs) and Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) working at quarantine units at airport and sea ports around the island.

    During his presentation on Global Health Security, Dr. P.G. Mahipala Director-General Health Services of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, commented on the importance of the border health management for the public health security of  not only the country but also globally. At a time where there is an unprecedented number of people moving both within and between countries, officials working at border health units play a crucial role in maintaining the health of communities across the world.   

    Dr. Sharika Peiris, Programme Manager of the Migration Health Unit of the International Organization for Migration and Dr. Vindya Kumarapeli, Director, Education Training and Research Unit (ET&R) were also a part of the panel and shared their knowledge on global health security and border health. 

    2016 / 05 / 03



    The 2nd Global consultation on Migration Health will be held in Sri Lanka in October later this year. In November 2015, His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena invited the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to host a global consultation in Sri Lanka, on the lessons learnt in advancing the health of migrants. H.E. the President extended this invitation in a special message to a panel discussion on ‘migration, human mobility and global health’, held during the 106th Council Session of the IOM held in Geneva, which was read by Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

    In his message, H.E. President Sirisena noted that Sri Lanka is recognized as the only country to have a dedicated, multi-sectoral and all-inclusive National Migration Health Policy and National Action Framework, with the objective of addressing the multi-faceted health challenges that emerge during all stages of migration across various migrant groups. He recalled that as the Minister of Health, he had the opportunity to meet the Ambassador William Lacy Swing, the Director General of IOM in September 2011 in Geneva and that the meeting indeed strengthened the partnership between IOM and Sri Lanka.

    IOM accepted this invitation from HE President Maithripala Sirisena and steps have been taken to host the ‘2nd Global Consultation on Migrant Health: Resetting the Agenda’ in Sri Lanka. This consultation is to be co-hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka the World Health Organization (WHO) and the IOM. 

    In preparation for this upcoming global consultation Dr. Mosca, Director, Migration Health, IOM Geneva, attended a series of high-level meetings with the Government and other stakeholders.  Dr. Mosca is the head of IOM’s migration health programmes globally and is also a member of the Health Worker Migration Global Policy Advisory Council which contributes through advocacy to respond to global health workforce migration challenges.

    During his visit, Dr. Mosca met with high level officials of the Ministry of Health, including Honorable Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Mr. AnuraJayawickrama, Secretary and Dr. P. G. Mahipala, Director General Health Services to discuss the organization and structure of the event. He also met with the WHO Representative Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, to discuss the role of WHO in migration health and the partnership with IOM to take the lead in resetting the agenda on migration and health. 

    Dr. Mosca was in Sri Lanka from the 24th to the 26th of April 2016. 

     

    2016 / 04 / 08



    A multi stakeholder meeting to kick start a number of actions towards the strengthening pre-departure health assessment services in Sri Lanka was held on the 4th of April 2016 under the chairmanship of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health. This meeting was jointly organized by the Directorate of Organization Development and the Directorate of Private Health Sector Development of the Ministry of Health with the technical and financial assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

    The objective of the meeting was to discuss the streamlining of pre-departure health assessment (HA) services in the country by understanding the public health significance of  pre-departure HA to Sri Lanka, discussing  steps being taken to improve pre-departure HAs and discussing the importance of a common understanding with other countries who send large numbers of migrants in strengthening Pre-departure HAs. This meeting also served as the initial sensitization meeting, informing stakeholders on plans to institutionalize national guidelines on integrating inclusive and migrant friendly health assessment services, which aims to contribute to the improvement of migrant health assessment services, through the development and adoption of national guidelines on migrant sensitive health assessments.  

    The meeting was attended by over 50 people, with representatives from 35 private health sector pre-departure health assessment providers (for countries such as Australia, Canada, GAMCA Countries, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, United Kingdom and the United States of America). Also present of were the Directors of the national disease control and prevention programmes of the Ministry of Health including the Director of Non Communicable Diseases, Acting Director of the National Programme for Tuberculosis Control and Chest Diseases, Director Quarantine and representatives from the National STI/AIDS Control Programme, Epidemiology Unit and the Directorate of the Mental Health. The Deputy Director General of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment and technical experts from IOM were also present. 

    Addressing the gathering Director General of Health Services Dr. P. G. Mahipala highlighted the importance of integrating the pre-departure health assessment services within the national health system.  He emphasized that the migration is a global phenomenon with over 1 billion world population been migrants, and that pre-departure stage of their journey plays a key role in addressing health issues of their migration cycle. He also highlighted that the pre departure health assessment can play a significant role in reducing the disease burden to the migrant as well as the public health systems of the receiving and the sending countries.

    While highlighting the role that Sri Lanka plays in leading the agenda on Migration Health globally, Dr. Mahipala also informed the group about the upcoming in dialogues on Migration Health which are being initiated by Sri Lanka, such as the Colombo Process discussions and the Upcoming Global Consultation on Migration Health to be held in Sri Lanka later this year. He also emphasized the commitment of the Ministry of Health to address issues regarding the health of migrants and encouraged to participants to get more engaged in discussions and support in addressing issues. During the panel discussion a number of private HA service providers, expressed an interest to get involved in the process of the formulation of the national guidelines. 

    2015 / 03 / 17



    With ever increasing cross border travel occurring across the globe, ensuring the prevention of public health emergencies is recognized as a prime concern. As a country which is being located in a strategic geographic location with increase trade and travel, Sri Lanka holds a vulnerable position for public health emergencies.

    Within the broader framework of national migration health policy, IOM Sri Lanka has facilitated the effort of Ministry of Health in enhancing border health in the country for the past two years. Under this programme, a multi stakeholder consultative meeting was held in February this year to discuss the coordination framework in managing Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC). This meeting was participated by wide range of stakeholders from Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka Ports Authority and so on.

    As a follow up to the above meeting, a consultation was held on 17th March with the main objective of developing a national contingency plan on PHEIC for the sea ports. Significant representation from Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka Customs, Department of Emigration and Immigration, Atomic Energy Authority, Plant and Animal Quarantine Units as well as representatives from the private sector such as Ceylon Association of Ships Agents (CASA), Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT) were also present at the occasion.

    The discussion was moderated by Dr. Sharika Peiris (National Migration Health Officer of IOM), Dr. Vindya Kumarapeli (Deputy Director of National Institute of Mental Health), and Dr. L.B. Denuwara (Director Quarantine, Ministry of Health). The need of having a national preparedness and response plan in addressing emergency situations at sea points was agreed upon. Case studies related to wide range of health emergencies were analyzed in terms of risk assessment, detecting and notifying the relevant authorities, as well as on appropriate responding and risk communication. As an initial step, members for the rapid response team comprising different sectors associated with sea port activities such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Disaster Management and Public Peace, Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation as well as inter-governmental partners and private sector representatives were nominated by the participants. Further, roles and responsibilities of the relevant stakeholders involved in the response team in terms of medical, technical services were also discussed. Reiterating the importance of adopting a coordinated approach in addressing Public Health Emergencies of International Concern, Dr. Sharika Peiris called for continuous and progressive support from all the relevant stakeholders. Concluding the workshop, the importance of including health as a significant contributor towards achieving sustainable development in Sri Lanka was once again highlighted. 

    2014 / 12 / 18



    Migration Health Unit of International Organization for Migration (IOM)Sri Lankawith the Ministry of Health launched a multi sectoral holder programme to establish a comprehensive border health strategy forSri Lanka,

    An Inter ministerial legislative review committee meeting was held on the 18th of December 2013 with the chairmanship of the Director General of Health services Dr. Palitha Mahipala. This meeting was participated by Legal officers from 10 government ministries and departments including Department of Immigration, Plant and Animal Quarantine, Atomic energy authority, Central Environmental authority etc.

     It was a landmark event where legal officials, health authorities, WHO, Port health officers and the public health officers, gathered under one roof to discuss the border health issues.

    The DGHS, in his presiding speech, thanked IOM for its high level technical and financial assistance in this Endeavour. 

    Director Quarantine Ministry of Health and the National IHR focal point highlighting the objectives stated the importance of establishment of a comprehensive border health strategy according to the current context of the country with post war development boom. He presented the revision of 1960 Quarantine Act, development of the standard operational procedures and the border health surveillance system as the key strategies adopted in this programme.

    Chief Legal Officer Ministry of Health requesting suggestions from the legal officers of the other ministries and government departments presented the proposed framework for the revisions of 1960 Quarantine and Disease Prevention Act of Sri Lanka.  

    Consultant IOM presented objectives, methodology and the key areas identified for the development of Standard Operational Procedures.

    Images

    Upper Left:  Director Quarantine of the Ministry of Health address explains the objectives of the programme and methodology adopted. Director General of Health Services and the Deputy Director General of Public Health Services were at the head table

    Upper Right: Director General of Health Services highlights the scope of the border health strategy and the importance of inter sectoral and multi stakeholder approach in addressing border health issues

    Lower center: Wide group of participation from Government Ministries – Ministry of Health, Ministry of Animal and Plant Quarantine, Central Environmental Authority, Department of Immigration, Atomic Energy Authority, Chief Virologist, Epidemiology Unit, Medical Research Institute, Medical Officers of Ports of Entries, Chief Judicial Medical Officer 

    2013 / 09 / 30



    The National Migration Health Policy was launched this week in Colombo by the Sri Lanka Ministry of Health (MOH) as a result of three and half years of effort and collaboration between the Government of Sri Lanka and IOM.

    The health impact on migrant and mobile populations from internal, outbound and inbound migration has been systematically examined over the past few years through undertaking public health research thanks to the solid partnership between IOM, the Ministry of Health and research experts inSri Lanka.

    According to IOM Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka Giuseppe Crocetti “A crucial feature for the success of the migration health process in Sri Lanka was the establishment of a solid institutional mechanism which has the full support from all Government departments and is constructed with foundations of empirical research – a rarity these days with opinions, not evidence, governing policy making”.

    2012 / 11 / 28



    The Government of Sri Lanka presents the final draft of the National Migration Health Policy for public debate after a 3-year development process.

    Although nearly one in ten Sri Lankans are employed overseas and earning the highest remittance to the country, little was known about the impact of their migration on their health vulnerabilities or the health status of the families they leave behind. The health impact of other migrant and mobile populations from internal, outbound and inbound migration categories had also never been systematically determined until IOM partnered with the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a national migration health program in December 2009. As part of this, IOM and the Ministry of Health worked collaboratively to conduct a national research to determine the health vulnerabilities and status of migrant and mobile populations in order to inform policy and program development.

    As a result of this effort, on 28th November 2012, the Hon. Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena, presented the National Policy document to the government and for public debate.  More than 60 senior government officials, policy makers, UN, NGOs and academics who were involved in the policy making process converged at the Cinnamon Hotel in Colombo for the presentation and discussion of the policy draft.

    This week’s presentation of the policy document marks a major milestone not only for the Government of Sri Lanka but for IOM’s global work on addressing the health needs of migrant and mobile populations, and for advancing the World Health Assembly Resolution on the Health of Migrants. Indeed Sri Lanka became also the first country within the United Nations Health Assembly to present progress on the World Health Assembly Resolution on Health of Migrants in 2011.

    Says Hon. Minister of Health: “In the situation of increasingly mobile population and dependency on revenue in Sri Lanka, the main challenge we face is to ensure migrants health and safety to facilitate productive migration and to protect our community, public health system and the economy to minimize the negative impacts of migration”

    The distinguishing features of the three year migration health development process are threefold: firstly, the entire policy making process has been orchestrated through an evidence-based approach; secondly, the process has taken a Inter governmental/ multi stakeholder  approach with 13 government ministries, academics, UN agencies and civil society participation; thirdly, the process had sought to address not only the health of outbound labour migrants but encompassed all migrant categories –inbound, outbound and internal. In addition, the process also addressed the health concerns of the families and children left behind.

    Already the policy process has led to a number of significant outcomes including parliamentary approval to establish health assessment as part of the resident visa application process; capacity building of the staff in Sri Lanka’s Foreign Employment Bureau and port medical officers on managing cases of migrant worker abuse; an establishment of a “healthy return and re-integration” program for returning refugees from India.

    2012 / 05 / 26



    The World Health Assembly (WHA) which convenes once a year is the decision making body of World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss commitments to Global public health issues and concerns.  The resolution was first endorsed by the Sixty-first World Health Assembly in May 2008, which was chaired by Sri Lanka . The 2008 WHA Resolution on health of migrants calls upon Governments to facilitate migrant-sensitive health policies and equitable access to services; Capacity building of health system, service providers and professionals; bi- and multi-lateral cooperation, and intersectoral action to ensure health inequalities of migrant flows are mitigated in order for a safe, healthy and productive migrant experience for all.

     

    Sri Lanka was the first nation to report on World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on health of migrants. Sri Lanka recognizes the importance of migration plays as a key engine for the country’s economic development and also ensuring better public health outcomes. Assessing and addressing the social and health consequences for migrant and mobile populations is also a vital step in health protection for the nation.


    Following the adoption of this resolution, Sri Lanka is spearheading a multi-ministerial and evidence based process towards developing a National Policy and program agenda on Migration Health, with assistance from the International Organization of Migration (IOM).

     

    The Sixty-fifth session of WHA took place in Geneva during 21–26 May 2012. The Hon. Minister of Health Mr. Maithripala Sirisena presented the 2nd Country report card on “Health of Migrants” during this session.

    WHA report card 2.pdf

    2011 / 12 / 19



    The Government of Sri Lanka with the support of IOM launched a web-portal on “Migration, Health and Development” on Monday 19th December, at the Auditorium of the Family Health Bureau. The website will act as an ‘information hub’ for public, policy makers, researchers and industry groups to understand the health, social  and economic impacts migration has the various migrant flows: ‘outbound’ labour migration, ‘internal’ migration, ‘inbound’ migration and the impacts on ‘left behind’ families and chidlren. The web-portal will also contain techincal fact sheets on the key-findings emerging from the 5 scientific research studies on migration health which was commissioned by the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Migration health in collaboration with IOM. These will be published in English, Singhalese and Tamil languages.

    The Secretary of Ministry of Health (MOH), Dr Ravindra Ruberu, and the Chief of Mission, IOM Sri Lanka Mr Richard Danziger co-launched the Migration, Health and Development web-portal, which will be linked to both the MOH and IOM websites. The website will also be a site to track Sri lanka’s progress on advancing the Health of Migrant’s Resolution and contain all development milestones toward the establishment of a “National Migration Health Policy” for the Nation.

    On the 18th of December, the Ministry of Health and IOM also launched a series of posters and leaflets in both Sinhalese and Tamil laungagues on promoting messages on ‘safe and healthy migration’, promoting ‘informed choice’ for families in the migration process, actions to mitigate health and social impacts for both the migrant worker and for the families and children left behind. These resource materials were developed by IOM and MOH after extensive rounds of consultations with key informants and pre-testing.

    Over 20,000 leaflets will be distributed via a major nation wide campaisgn comprised of a series of awareness raising walks throughout the island starting on the 18th December. This major campaign to raise nationwide awareness on the contribution migrant workers make to the nation, led by the Ministry of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare, was launched by His Excellency, the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksha.

    2011 / 12 / 18



    Led by the Ministry of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare and launched by His Excellency president Mahinda Rajapaksha at Galleface, with the aim of raising awareness on the contribution of the migrants to the nation.

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