IOM’s migration health activities in Sri Lanka work towards the vision enshrined in the 2013 National Migration Health Policy, one of the first of its kind in the region, which recognizes that migrants and mobile populations benefit from an improved standard of physical, mental and social wellbeing, which enables them to substantially contribute towards the social and economic development of their home communities and host societies.
Migrant Health Assessments
In line with the National Migration Health Policy, IOM will continue implementing migration health assessments and providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in developing standards for implementing and monitoring pre-departure health assessments. Since mid-2014, IOM has offered migrants direct access to health assessments. These migrant-friendly assessments are conducted at IOM’s dedicated health assessment facility established in 2014 in Colombo. The centre adheres to international best practices and provides early detection and management of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and other conditions. One of the strategies under the key results area of the National Migration Health Policy calls for the establishment of health assessments for resident visa applicants to Sri Lanka. IOM will thus provide technical assistance to the MoH in developing and implementing an inbound health assessment programme to mitigate the impact of migrants’ disease burdens on national health and social services and to contribute to maximize the developmental impact of migrants into Sri Lankan society.
The risk of incidence of imported malaria cases in Sri Lanka is one of the major challenges to the national malaria programme, as the country has just been declared malaria-free. IOM’s health unit will therefore continue its partnership with the National Malaria Programme which was initiated in 2012. Foreign visitors and Sri Lankan migrants returning from West African and other malaria endemic countries and regions are being screened for malaria upon arrival at the main international airport, using a rapid diagnostic test. The travellers identified as positive for malaria through an IOM-MOH jointly developed screening process are referred to the National Programme for Malaria for further investigation and treatment. This intervention has been commended by both the national and international health authorities.
IOM will also continue its support to Sri Lanka’s well-established national vertical health programmes to address migratory related health issues. These programmes include the National Anti-Malaria Campaign, National Programme on Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases, and the Sexually Transmitted Diseases & HIV/AIDS Control Programme. Health promotion activities will be conducted across various IOM projects but will be coordinated by IOM’s Health Unit and will be in line with the Sri Lankan Government’s national policies.
Evidence-Based Policy Support
IOM’s research work in Sri Lanka supports and informs migration policy and practice across a broad range of inter-linked issues. IOM has undertaken policy-oriented and operational research based on pragmatic and evidence-based analysis over the years, which has informed the implementation of multiple projects of IOM and partners, and has also positively influenced national policy debates and stimulated new operational approaches and activities.
IOM’s sound ethics-based and principled approaches to research mean that international communities of practice welcome IOM’s research findings, and as such, IOM Sri Lanka has often been asked to disseminate its research findings through international academic journals, especially in the field of migration health. IOM’s research is not only therefore relevant to local contexts, but also to regional and international dialogues and practices.
IOM will build upon its extensive research practice in Sri Lanka by ensuring that research is included as an integral and inter-sectorial feature of its own programmes.
IOM has gained a wealth of knowledge and expertise during its first 12 years of operations in Sri Lanka. Research is just one important aspect of informing and building this knowledge. In line with IOM’s global institutional initiative in support of a more comprehensive approach towards knowledge management, IOM will work in the upcoming strategy period to improve its capacity to analyse, develop, process and share knowledge assets generated by its projects and processes, with a view to continue to add value to its work and that of its partners and beneficiaries.