Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka’s National Migration Health Policy was launched this week in Colombo, the result of three and a half years of work between the Government of Sri Lanka and IOM.
The policy marks a major milestone for the Government of Sri Lanka, for IOM’s global work on the health needs of migrant and mobile populations, and for advancing the World Health Assembly resolution on the health of migrants.
In Sri Lanka, outward migration plays a vital role in development with nearly 24 per cent of the nation’s labour force working abroad, generating about nine per cent of the country’s annual GDP. With foreign remittances expected to surge to USD 7 billion by 2016, migration has become the highest foreign exchange earner. The garment industry, which is the second highest export earner for the nation, is driven by free trade zones (FTZs) where many internal migrants work.
There is also an ever-increasing flow of inward migrants, especially from within Asia, the majority of whom are fueling the nation’s development progress via private and state-funded projects. A rise in the number of ports, railways and sea routes has apparently led to an increase in malarial diseases.
The launch of the policy was attended by 60 senior government officials, policy makers, UN/NGO representatives and academics who were involved in the policy making process as part of a broader National Migration Health Development Programme launched in 2009. Since then, IOM and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health have released data and conducted inter-ministerial forums on evidence-based policy making.
“The success of the migration health process in Sri Lanka is due to the support given by all government departments and is underpinned by empirical research with evidence, not opinions, governing policy making,” says Giuseppe Crocetti, IOM Chief of Mission in Sri Lanka.
Launching the policy, Secretary of the Health Ministry Dr Nihal Jayathilake said: “Migration has many positive effects on our society and economy. We must ensure, however, that any negative impacts are mitigated. We are directly addressing this through the National Migration Health Policy, which sets out to protect the health and well -being of migrant populations, their families and host populations.”
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