Malé – Stakeholders from the Government of Maldives, United Nations agencies, civil society and the private sector recently gathered on 22 June to discuss the National Migration Health Policy that is being formulated through the support provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The high-level stakeholder meeting was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economic Development with 55 participants in attendance representing 26 agencies. The development of the National Migration Health Policy is an initiative to strengthen the Government of Maldives’ capacities to make healthcare systems in the country more accessible and inclusive, particularly for migrants.
The meeting is fundamental to the Maldives, given that in a 2020 United Nations Development Programme report the country was listed as having the largest proportion of migrants in South Asia with roughly 200,000 to 250,000 international migrants constituting around one third of the resident population.
The National Migration Health Policy is aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of migrants and works toward improving equitable access to healthcare services for migrants in the Maldives. A multisectoral approach was sought to engage key stakeholders, ensuring the inclusive representation and participation of migrants, allowing for deeper understanding into the socioeconomic determinants that affect migrants’ rights to health. The Policy recognizes that non-discriminatory access is imperative for the full realization and protection of the fundamental right to health for migrants, and is set to be adopted within the year 2022.
In the closing remarks in the plenary discussion, Ahmed Naseem, the Minister of Health asserted that “the National Policy on Migration Health is an important policy that must bring together the efforts directed at promoting the health of migrants, both in the Maldives, and of Maldivians who live abroad to ensure accessible healthcare for all.”
Emphasizing the importance of protecting the health rights of people, Mariyam Nazima, the Deputy Minister of Economic Development affirmed that “this policy is a step in the right direction and a good beginning to address better conditions for migrants in the Maldives.”
IOM Chief of Mission to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Sarat Dash, noted that the participants in attendance today were “best placed to bring expertise and experience cutting across other important issues such as social inclusion, protection, gender, partnerships, and advocacy, to the discussion around widening better access to healthcare for migrants in the Maldives.”
The Policy adds to the Government of Maldives’ existing efforts to promote safe, orderly, and regular migration and will work towards the achievement of national priorities listed in the country’s Strategic Action Plan 2019-2023 in line with and complementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework 2022-2026.
IOM is pleased to note that the project is supported through funding provided by the IOM Development Fund (IDF).