Thailand stands out as a leader in championing the health of migrants. As one of a few countries that provide 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 recognized as a vulnerable group who often lack the economic means or social safety nets to access adequate health services.

Since 1999, IOM has been working closely in 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. This partnership was further enhanced in 2019 where a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to increase access to healthcare among migrants and vulnerable communities.  

IOM delivers and promotes preventive and curative health programmes in Thailand which are beneficial, accessible and equitable for migrants and mobile populations. A comprehensive approach is taken in addressing public health risks which helps to mitigate and eliminate the impact of communicable diseases, protect migrants and host communities and enhance national health capacity and social services. 

IOM is particularly active in the areas of tuberculosis (TB) detection and COVID-19 prevention and has extensive experience in conducting health assessments and implementing behaviour change campaigns. Through its own network of health assessment centres and laboratories, IOM also provides extensive health services to migrants and refugees such as medical screenings (including laboratory diagnostics, immunization and treatment) and psychosocial assistance so that they can travel and remain healthy throughout their stay in Thailand and abroad. 

IOM is particularly active in the area of COVID-19 prevention and tuberculosis (TB) detection. IOM has recently completed a programme to support the Thai government’s effort to eliminate malaria in the GMS region. To date, over 146,000 persons [A1] from poor and hard-to-reach populations have been screened for TB with over 10,000 suspects tested [A2]. IOM has also recently completed a programme to support the effort to eliminate malaria among at-risk groups in the GMS region. Activities included the training of migrant health workers and volunteers in case detection and follow up, behavioural change campaigns and the distribution of over 100,000 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.