United Towards a Migrant-Inclusive Health System in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand, 6 June 2024 -- In efforts to achieve equitable and inclusive access to healthcare for all migrants, the United Nations Network on Migration in Thailand in collaboration with Royal Thai Government and partners, has officially launched the Migrant Health Sub-Working Group (MHWG).

Health is a fundamental human right, and is an essential precondition for migrants to work, be productive and contribute to development. “Every migrant, wherever they come from, is a human, whose health should be cared for,” remarked Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Director of the Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI).

Since achieving universal health coverage (UHC) for all Thai nationals in 2022, the Royal Thai Government have embarked on a joint commitment to expand health coverage to migrants and their families. This commitment was reaffirmed under the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), with Thailand making UHC for migrants one of its key pledges.

“Universal health coverage can only be achieved when all people living in Thailand can access quality healthcare services, regardless of their nationality,” echoed Dr. Supakit Sirilak, Director of the HSRI. When it comes to public health, no one is protected unless everyone is protected. The COVID-19 pandemic was a testament of this reality.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a reminder of the vital role migrants play in development – who worked on the frontlines to provide essential services. However, it also brought attention to the unique challenges faced by migrants, emphasizing the need for equitable access to vaccinations.

To ensure migrants are not left behind in the recovery from the pandemic, the UN Network on Migration in Thailand established a Migrant Health Sub-Working Group in 2021 consisting of United Nations, Government and non-government partners working on migration health, with IOM as the coordinator. The group initially aimed to synergize and support the Royal Thai Government’s COVID-19 response efforts, particularly equipping migrant communities with lifesaving vaccines and accurate health information.

Now in its third year of collaboration, the UN Network on Migration is gathering stakeholders to officially introduce the Working Group in its new shape as the Migrant Health Sub-Working Group [MHWG] with over 15 members. This event will be a platform to set forth new priorities towards a more migrant-inclusive health system in Thailand, in the spirit of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

“Every stakeholder has a vital role to play in creating a robust, inclusive, and responsive health system for migrant population,” Dr. Sophon Iamsirithaworn, Ministry of Public Health Inspector-General,

“For national health care systems to be truly inclusive of migrants, it is critical to view public health from the lens of mobility,” said Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand. “We must engage all sectors of government, local authorities, and migrant communities themselves to identify workable solutions that are responsive to the needs of migrants.”

In 2023 alone, the Working Group partners supported over 295,000 migrants to access health services and nearly 32,500 migrants to obtain health insurance. Recognizing the critical role Migrant Health Volunteers play in bridging the language and information gap, the Working Group facilitated trainings of over 7,000 Migrant Health Volunteers on community-based disease surveillance and facilitating migrants’ access to health services and information.

A strong public health system that ensures systematic and meaningful inclusion of migrants without undue financial hardship is central to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Working Group is committed in lending the vital support needed to achieve this vision. 

“Good health and well-being is not a privilege for a few but a right for all. Promoting the health and well-being of migrants should be viewed by all as a critical investment, so we can make universal health coverage for migrants a reality by 2030,” emphasized Ms Ansart.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Moemen Nader ( or Anushma Shrestha (


SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals