Countries agree on UN plan to promote refugees, migrants’ health

MEMBER States of the United Nations, including Nigeria, have agreed on a five-year global action plan to promote the health of refugees and migrants.

The plan was adopted during the 72nd world health assembly at Geneva. According to the World Health Organisation, the plan focuses on achieving the highest attainable standard of health for all people.

The action plan outlined twelve priorities which set to reduce mortality and morbidity among refugees and migrants through short and long-term public health interventions as well as to strengthen health monitoring and information systems and counter misperceptions about migrant and refugee health.

It also seeks to improve the continuity and quality of health services delivered to these sets of people.

“Continuity of care is at risk of interruption for refugees and migrants during their period of transit due to factors such as insufficient sustainability, economic and language barriers, administrative obstacles, detention, discrimination, exclusion, poor understanding of entitlements and underutilization of health services,” part of the plan read.

Thus to fulfill the objective, WHO encourages member states to provide for access to comprehensive primary health care on a continuing and long-term basis if required, while it should be supported with functioning referral processes to necessary secondary and tertiary care services.

    It also calls for training of health care providers towards combatting stigmatisation and discrimination.

    Globally, the number of international migrants has grown. According to WHO, between 2000–2017, the total number of international migrants rose from 173 million to 258 million, an increase of 49 percent. The number of refugees was put to 25.4 million. Ten million stateless people lack a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement.

    Due to Insurgencies and violence in northern Nigeria, many have been forced to leave their birthplaces.

    In March, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said an estimated 35,000 Nigerians had fled across the north-eastern border into Cameroon in the last two weeks of January.

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