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.

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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.

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