Outgoing Minister of Health, Nimal Siripala de Silva (appointed as Minister of Irrigation and Water Resource Development in the new Cabinet ), met international agencies last week, to initiate a health policy for migrants.
“The meeting, which was funded by IOM’s 1035 grant facility for IOM Member States, discussed a migration health policy to address outbound, inbound, and internal migrant flows,” said a press release from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Outward migrant flows from Sri Lanka include some 1.8 million people working abroad. These migrant workers play a critical role in the economy, sending home over US$ 3 billion a year in remittances.
Therefore, Minister de Silva noted that a migrant health policy for Sri Lanka must be accepted by countries that receive Sri Lankan migrant labour.
“Our migrant health policy must be respected by migrant receiving countries in order to be effective. It needs to offer strong guidelines for policies which can be adopted by other countries,” said Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, who is the current president of the World Health Assembly - the governing body of the WHO.
Sri Lanka’s migrant flows are not only outflows related to foreign employment. Other migrant flows linked to the end of the country’s long running conflict in 2009, include displaced people returning to their places of origin, returning refugees from abroad, and an expected rapid expansion of tourism.
The meeting to develop a migration health policy included participation from Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition and representatives from IOM, the World Health Organisation, the International Labour Organisation, the Central Bank and other relevant ministries.