The specific challenges we have encountered in our fieldwork in migration contexts highlight the need for better evidence to improve health-system responses to migration, mobility, and health. We have identified five core areas in which action is needed to support the development of a global research agenda on migration, mobility, and health.
Migration impacts the South African public healthcare system but not in the ways often assumed, and sectors responsible for improving responses have a poor understanding of migration. The need for better data is emphasised, existing policy responses are outlined, and strategic opportunities for intervention are suggested. Recommendations are made for migration-aware health systems that embed population movement as central to the design of health interventions, policy, and research. Such responses offer strategic opportunities to address health inequity, both nationally and regionally, with resulting health and developmental benefits for all.
This paper explores the potential risks associated with the blurring of global migration governance and health security agendas in Southern Africa, a region associated with high levels of population mobility, communicable, and – increasingly – non-communicable diseases.
Drawing on discussions with policy makers, research scholars, civil society, and United Nations agencies held in Colombo, we emphasize the urgent need for quality research on international and domestic (in-country) migration and health to support efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs aim to ‘leave no-one behind’ irrespective of their legal status. An ethically sound human rights approach to research that involves engagement across multiple disciplines is required. Researchers need to be sensitive when designing and disseminating research findings as data on migration and health may be misused, both at an individual and population level. We emphasize the importance of creating an ‘enabling environment’ for migration and health research at national, regional and global levels, and call for the development of meaningful linkages – such as through research reference groups – to support evidence-informed inter-sectoral policy and priority setting processes.
The global health imperative of developing migration‐aware and mobility‐competent health responses must not be undermined by moral panics; the resultant international policy processes run the risk of jeopardizing effective action at the local level.
The Migration and Health Project Southern Africa (maHp) aims to explore (and evaluate) ways to generate and communicate knowledge in order to improve responses to migration, health and well-being in the SADC region.