IOM Facilitated Sri Lanka-Maldives Dialogue on Inclusive Migration Health Policy

Dr. Shah Mahir, honourable State Minister of Health, Ministry of Health, Maldives and Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, honourable Minister of Health, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka in discussion at the Experience Sharing Workshop on 29 September 2022. © IOM 2022

Discussion underway at the Sri Lanka-Maldives Experience Sharing Workshop held in Colombo on 29 September 2022. © IOM 2022

A view of the participants at the Sri Lanka-Maldives Experience Sharing Workshop held in Colombo on 29 September 2022. © IOM 2022

A group photo of all attendees at the Sri Lanka-Maldives Experience Sharing Workshop held in Colombo on 29 September 2022. © IOM 2022

Dr. Rajeev Lal, the Chief Migration Health Officer of the Inbound Migration Health Assessment Centre (IHAC) at IOM Sri Lanka giving an overview of the operations at the IHAC to the Maldivian Delegation on day 2 of the delegation's experience sharing visit, 28 September 2022. © IOM 2022

Colombo—The International Organization for Migration (IOM) facilitated the Government of Maldives’ delegation of policy makers party to the ‘Maldives Migration Health Policy,’ led by Dr. Shah Mahir, the State Minister of Health, Maldives Ministry of Health, on a three-day Experience Sharing Visit to Sri Lanka (27-29 September 2022).

Representatives from the Maldives Ministry of Health, Health Protection Agency, Maldives Immigration, Ministry of Finance, and Maldivian Red Crescent took part in several information exchanges with stakeholders from the Government of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Ministry of Health (MoH), Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) and Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE) to discuss the formulation of the Maldives National Migration Health Policy, an initiative to strengthen the Government of Maldives’ capacities in making healthcare systems in the country more accessible and inclusive, particularly for migrants.

The three-day dialogue on knowledge-sharing concluded with an ‘Experience Sharing Workshop on Migration Health Policy’ held at Cinnamon Grand Colombo with the participation of officials from MoH, DIE, SLBFE and IOM. The event was opened by Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Health, Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, Dr. Alaka Singh, World Health Organization Representative to Sri Lanka, Dr. Susie Perera, Deputy Director General, Public Health Services and Sarat Das, Chief of Mission to IOM Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and moderated by Dr. Kolitha Wickramage, Public Health Specialist at IOM.

In his opening remarks, Sarat Das asserted that “the work towards inclusive policymaking is important to ensure equitable access to essential services for everyone. As such, it is a great honour for me, as the IOM representative of both countries, to facilitate this discussion for both the Member States.”

A potential guidepost and central point of interest for the delegation was Sri Lanka’s National Migration Health Policy launched in 2013, providing access to essential, preventive and public health services for all immigrants, irrespective of their status or country of origin.

Emphasizing the importance of inclusivity, Dr. Shah Mahir affirmed that “if we were to improve the health of the nation, we must include all its people which include nationals as well as the migrant population.”

“The Maldives is in the process of reforming the health sector to make it more accessible, efficient, and more cost-effective and the developing Migrant Health Policy is an essential component of this reform process” he added.

On advancing the migration health agenda, Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella remarked on how the subject of the health of migrants is a complex one and “depends on the intent behind each respective government's policy."

The visit is fundamental to the Maldives, given that in a 2020 United Nations Development Programme report, the country was listed as having the largest proportion of migrants in South Asia, with roughly 200,000 to 250,000 international migrants constituting around one-third of the resident population.

The developing National Migration Health Policy is aimed at promoting the health and well-being of migrants and works toward improving equitable access to healthcare services for migrants in the Maldives. The Policy recognizes that non-discriminatory access is imperative for the full realization and protection of the fundamental right to health for migrants and is set to be adopted this year.

The Policy adds to the Government of Maldives’ existing efforts to promote safe, orderly and regular migration and will work towards the achievement of national priorities listed in the country’s Strategic Action Plan 2019-2023 in line with and complementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Framework 2022-2026.

IOM is pleased to note that the project is supported through funding provided by the IOM Development Fund (IDF).

For more information please contact:

Ahmed Mohamed, National Programme Officer, IOM, Sri Lanka and Maldives, Tel: +960 7782487, Email:

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being