IOM delivers and promotes comprehensive, preventive and curative health programmes which are beneficial, accessible, and equitable for migrants and mobile populations. Bridging the needs of both migrants and member states, IOM's Migrant Health Department contributes towards the physical, mental and social well-being of migrants, enabling them and host communities to achieve social and economic development.
Thailand stands out as a leader in championing the health of migrants. As one of a few countries that provides migrants with universal access to healthcare, its national health policies reflect a gradually broadening framework of support for migrant health issues. Under the Government’s Migrant Health Strategy and Border Health Development Master Plan, migrants are recognised as a vulnerable group who often lack the economic means or social safety nets to access adequate health services.
Since 1999, IOM has developed a strong partnership with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in responding to the challenges of public health and migration. With the aim of improving health knowledge, awareness, practices and access among migrants as well as their Thai host communities, IOM supports the MOPH in promoting migrant inclusive policies that address migration-related health vulnerabilities, non-communicable diseases, mental health, occupational health, environmental health, and access to migrant-sensitive health care services. This partnership was further strengthened in 2015 where a new MOU with signed to increase access to healthcare among migrants and vulnerable communities for the period of June 2015 to June 2018.
IOM is particularly active in the area of malaria elimination and tuberculosis (TB) detection. To date, over 120,000 persons from poor and hard-to-reach populations have been screened for TB with over 15,000 suspects tested. IOM also initiated a campaign to contain and eliminate malaria among at-risk groups in border areas. Activities included the training of migrant health workers and volunteers in case detection and follow up, behavioural change campaigns and the distribution of over 70,000 long-lasting insecticide nets.
In the context of resettlement, IOM conducts the health assessment of refugees accepted for resettlement prior to their travel, including complete medical assessment (physical examination, chest x-ray, phlebotomy, etc.), pre-departure/embarkation check-ups and ensures fitness to travel. IOM operates its own laboratories in Thailand where specimens are examined to detect various infectious diseases. IOM also provides immunization and medical treatment to the refugees, so that they can travel safely and do not pose a public health risk to other travelers or receiving communities. Support services including TB detection and counseling are also provided for both refugees and migrants.