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Migration and Health

Migration health assessments are among the most well-established migration management services offered by IOM. At the request of receiving country governments, IOM provides an evaluation of the physical and mental health status of migrants prior to their departure for the purpose of resettlement, international employment, enrolment in specific migrant assistance programmes, or for obtaining a temporary or permanent visa.

Reflecting national differences in immigration and public policies and practices, there is a diverse range of health assessment requirements among receiving countries. These requirements may be specific to certain diseases of public health concern such as tuberculosis, as is the case with the United Kingdom Tuberculosis Detection Programme; requirements may also be more general in nature, or include additional interventions, such as vaccinations. But despite differences in health assessment requirements among countries, one thing remains constant: the need to ensure that the migration process does not endanger the health of either the migrant or host communities.

Migration health assessments have many benefits, including the early detection and treatment of conditions of individual and public health concern, safer travel and the prevention of negative health events during travel or on arrival at host communities. Additionally, they serve to protect the health of both migrants and host communities and reduce the expected demand for domestic health and social services. Health assessment programmes also allow refugee resettlement agencies to adequately prepare for the arrival of refugees by providing them with important medical information in advance. Migration health assessments are coherent with the IOM goal of “healthy migrants in healthy communities” and, as such, positively impact on migrants’ capacity to integrate fully into receiving societies.