GENEVA - In a push to advance the welfare of migrants on all fronts, the Philippine delegation to the 140th Meeting of the Executive Board of the World Health Assembly called for a united effort to address the health concerns of migrants and refugees, a particularly vulnerable group.

Philippine Secretary of Health Paulyn Rosell-Ubial, and the Philippine Mission in Geneva led the Philippine delegation in the assembly.

With over nine million Filipino migrants overseas, the Philippines is deeply committed to promoting the health of migrants in keeping with the overall goals of Universal Health Care, the Sustainable Development Goals, and most recently, the New York Declaration on Migrants and Refugees.

In its intervention on Promoting the Health of Migrants, the Philippines requested the Secretariat to coordinate its work on highlighting the public health dimension of migration with the discussions at the United Nations in New York on the intergovernmental process towards the crafting of the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration.

The Philippines also appealed to Member States to align their positions taken at the WHO with their positions on the importance of this issue in other fora.

Migration is a complex issue that requires inter-country, cross-regional, and international cooperation. Apart from the political and legal dimensions of migration, the welfare and health of migrants are a public health concern that deserves a place in the global development agenda.

In its report to the Executive Board, the WHO Secretariat noted that migrants and refugees often lack access to health services and financial protection for health. This puts migrants and refugees at risk due to: abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, barriers to accessing health and social services, and a lack of continuity of care.

The report also noted that barriers to accessing health care may include high costs, language and cultural differences, discrimination, administrative hurdles, the inability to affiliate with local health insurance schemes, and lack of information about health entitlements. The report also pointed out that late or denied treatment may be discriminatory, contravene human rights principles, and threaten public health.

The Executive Board gave the WHO Secretariat the mandate to commence discussions on the preparation of elements for a draft Global Framework for Refugee and Migrant Health which will be a pre-cursor for a Global Action Plan to address issues on Refugee and Migrant Health.

The Philippines is a member of the Executive Board of the WHO. It is composed of 34 individuals technically qualified in the field of health, and are elected for a for three-year terms. The Philippines ends its tenure in the Board in 2018. END

Source: Republic of Philippines Department Of Foreign Affairs