Vietnam, IOM support enhanced regional ties to improve migrants’ health

VOV.VN - Officials of both Vietnam and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have voiced support for stronger ties in ASEAN as a means of improving the access of migrants, especially transboundary ones, to healthcare services.

An international conference was held on June 26 in Hanoi by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and the ASEAN Secretariat with support from the IOM and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The event saw the participation of over 160 officials, experts, and scholars from ASEAN member states who attended both in person and via videoconference.

According to reports delivered at the event, the bloc has long been a source, a point of transit, and a destination for both migrants and their families. It has the third biggest number of international migrants in Asia, behind India and China.

Migration has caused complex burdens on health security in the region, including risks of communicable diseases, occupational injuries and accidents, mental health problems, non-communicable diseases, and maternal and child health. Infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) remain challenges to ASEAN members, with some countries still recording a high incidence of TB, HIV, and malaria cases.

Most notably, the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam are among the 30 countries recording the highest rates of TB infections in the world.

ASEAN can currently be seen as uneven in terms of health services. Meanwhile, universal health coverage is a challenging target to be reached, even among citizens in their countries, not to mention migrants.

The IOM’s recent studies point out barriers to transboundary migrants’ access to health services, including the language barrier, discrimination, financial limitations, a shortage of transnational health insurance, and a general lack of a mechanism for transnational patient transfer. Migrants were even more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they were unable to fully access necessary health services.

In her remarks, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong stressed the need to share experience, initiatives, and policy models in order to strengthen ties among ASEAN member states, as well as between the bloc and its partners to improve migrants’ health.

Park Mi-hyung, chief of Mission of the IOM in Vietnam, hailed co-operation between the IOM and the Health Ministry.
She noted that in a dynamic world with growing travel demand, regional ties and partnerships are important to improving migrants’ health, with healthy migrants helping to create healthy communities.

Park also highlighted the progress made by the IOM and ASEAN countries in terms of promoting action plans on migrants’ health in accordance with the Global Compact for Migration.

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