More than 70 million migrants living across international borders in the region of the Americas are set to receive health support under an agreement signed by IOM and PAHO.
Carissa F. Etienne, director of PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and António Vitorino, director general of IOM (International Organization for Migration) signed the agreement, according to a press release.
Under the agreement, PAHO and IOM will focus on scaling up coordinated interventions to support countries of the Americas in addressing health and migration.
They will also ensure greater advocacy for the inclusion of the specific needs of migrants in health and development policy throughout the region, both in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
“Migrants are one of the most vulnerable populations in our Region, facing huge barriers when it comes to accessing the health care they need,” said PAHO Director Carissa F Etienne.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe, which is why this agreement between PAHO and IOM has never been so timely and so important,” she added.
Drivers of migration in the Americas include social and economic inequalities, political instability, conflict and environmental disasters.
While many countries in the region are sources of emigration to high-income countries in the Americas and Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean are also experiencing an increase in migrants from Africa and Asia.
This places an additional strain on the under-resourced health systems of many countries in the Americas.
IOM Director General António Vitorino, however, said the new PAHO-IOM agreement will help deal with such challenges in in the region's countries with insufficient health resources.
“This initiative has been created precisely to address these challenges and will help stakeholders to coordinate and harmonize actions to enhance the health of migrants,” he said.