IOM Highlights Migration Health Risks in Central America

Date Publish: 
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
IOM Development Fund

El Salvador - IOM this week took part in the Regional Dialogue on the Health of Migrants, hosted by the Ministry of Health of El Salvador (MINSAL), the Central American Council of Health Ministers (COMISCA) and the World Organization Health (PAHO/WHO).

The meeting, held on 7-8 July, provided a platform for 35 representatives from different institutions and governments in Central America, Mexico and Colombia to discuss the main findings of various studies and exchange experiences in order to integrate the health needs of migrants in national and regional plans, policies and strategies.

Studies by IOM in the region have shown that various factors determine the health of migrants and the communities they are linked to. For example, in Honduras, 50 per cent of those surveyed said that family diseases had worsened after the departure of a relative. In Nicaragua, returnees claimed to suffer from nervous disorders after their return.

Meanwhile, over 70 per cent of returned Salvadorans think that migration poses a life-threatening risk. In Guatemala, nearly 28 per cent of returnees said that they had suffered from hypertension, diabetes, lung or heart disease.

The regional dialogue was opened by the Executive Secretary of COMISCA, Julio Valdes; PAHO Representative, Carlos Garzón; the representative of MINSAL, Raul Palomo; and IOM’s Chief of Mission for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, Jorge Peraza.

"The aim of this forum is to reflect the specific needs of the migrant population's health. We have clearly identified that, within vulnerable populations, migrants sometimes are not viewed as such, But after all the risks they have been exposed to on their way, we need to know what kind of care should be offered to them, what are the health services they need, and what kind of support is needed," says Peraza.

“There are several reasons for this. For example, sometimes restrictions limit their access to health services because of lack of papers. There has been significant work done to ensure that health services are provided to all. But this involves action by governments to establish internal policies that guarantee the right to health over any other bureaucratic requirements,” he adds.

The dialogue is part of an IOM project funded by the IOM Development Fund to strengthen the institutional capacity of the El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala governments to respond to the health needs of migrants. It follows a series of national dialogues, also supported by IOM.

IOM prioritizes strategic alliances that allow the development of joint actions with institutions, at regional level, to address the health needs during different phases of the migration process. This event was an example of these associations and helped to recognize that migration is not a health risk, but an important determining factor for the welfare of returnees, irregular migrants and families left behind in communities of origin.

For more information, please contact Alba Amaya at IOM El Salvador, Tel: +503 2521 0500, Email: