Ways to Improve Migrants’ Access to Healthcare are Discussed in Belarus

For two days, representatives of state authorities, NGOs and international organisations discussed migration and health issues, first at a roundtable and then at a workshop organised by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Belarus.

Experts gathered at a round table to discuss the results of a study on migrants' health and access to healthcare in Belarus, which IOM conducted between 2022 and 2023, involving international and national experts in migration, sociology and health.

The training was organised for professionals working with migrants to further explore the link between migration and health from legal, social, economic and cultural perspectives. Special attention was paid to the principles of equality and supporting vulnerable persons in order to promote public health and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

At the opening the event, Mr. Alexander Tarasenko, Deputy Minister of Health - Chief Sanitary Doctor of Belarus, underlined the importance of the migration and health topic for Belarus, taking into account the existing migration flows and the involvement of the country in the global migration processes. He also stressed the importance of joint efforts of IOM, UN and Belarusian Government in promoting and implementing principles of safe, orderly and regular migration for the health of migrants and the society as a whole.

"Legal regulation of migrants' access to medical care functions effectively in Belarus and ensures healthcare accessibility in accordance with international, regional and bilateral treaties. We actively cooperate with IOM on the provision of preventive and therapeutic assistance to migrants in special situations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Belarus has included migrants in the national vaccination plan and ensured full and unimpeded vaccination coverage of migrants. Emergency and urgent medical, social and psychological assistance is provided to vulnerable migrants in difficult situations. Migration and health issues definitely need further discussion, including at such platforms, to develop joint solutions and their practical implementation on the ground", said Alexander Tarasenko.

Dr Jaime Calderon, Regional Migration Health Advisor at the IOM Regional Office in Vienna and the facilitator of the workshop stressed: "IOM promotes comprehensive preventive health programmes that are beneficial, accessible and equitable for migrants. However, effective implementation of such programmes can only be achieved in cooperation with national partners, based on objective data about the needs of migrants in the specific country context. The implementation of this project in the field of migration and health allows for fruitful cooperation between stakeholders and for obtaining factual data on the health of migrants in Belarus. This in turn contributes both to the physical, mental and social well-being of migrants and to the well-being of the whole population, allowing everyone to enjoy the right to health and achieve social well-being”.

Presenting the project "Supporting National Capacities in Migration Health Focusing on Communicable Diseases" funded by the IOM Development Fund, IOM Belarus Chief of Mission Mahym Orazmuhammedova, highlighted the relevance and comprehensive nature of the project and stressed that it is implemented in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health and a large number of national partners involved in migration processes.

"The project development and coordination with key national partners took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, when both the scale of the pandemic and its socioeconomic impact underscored the need to reach all populations with anti-epidemic and preventive measures. Experience has also demonstrated that collaboration and coordination between different sectors of society was essential. Such a comprehensive response should include all population groups, including migrants. The connection between the health of migrants and the general population needs to be further explored in order to minimize the possible risks of migration processes and social determinants of health to individuals and society as a whole", said Mahym Orazmuhammedova. 

After studying the results of the research on migrants' access to health services and enhancing knowledge about migration and health, the participants discussed possible ways to improve intersectoral cooperation and partnership to improve migrants' access to healthcare in Belarus.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals