MINISTERS and government representatives have adopted a groundbreaking political statement, the Rabat Declaration, to strengthen the global commitment to improve the health of refugees and migrants.
The Rabat Declaration was adopted during the high-level segment of the Third Global Consultation on the Health of Refugees and Migrants which took place on 13-15 June 2023. The event was attended by government representatives from 48 United Nations Member States and observers as well as representatives from humanitarian organisations, civil society and refugee and migrant communities and UN agencies.
The meeting aims to promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national health systems as part of the global movement for universal health coverage, and work towards resilient and sustainable health emergency prevention, preparedness and response capacities.
One in eight people globally is either a migrant or is forcibly displaced by factors including conflict, persecution, environmental degradation, or the lack of human security and opportunity.
Taking stock of the progress achieved in refugee and migrant health and considering the lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic, the countries supporting the Rabat Declaration committed to:
- accelerating efforts to improve the health of refugees, migrants and their host communities.
- addressing the root causes that negatively influence their health
- working towards including health and social protection considerations in national policies related to refugees and migrants.
The declaration also reaffirms the right of every human being, including refugees and migrants, to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health:
- recognition of professional health certifications
- enhancing information and communication channels to counter misperceptions and misinformation
- ensuring safe working environments for refugees and migrants as well as investing in inclusive and appropriate data systems and high-quality global research are highlighted in the declaration as key to advancing towards the goals.
Countries supporting it commit to including refugee and migrant populations and their host communities in policies and plans for prevention, preparedness, response and recovery to pandemics and other public health emergencies, while strengthening international and cross-border collaboration.
Stakeholders also pledge to foster inclusive financing mechanisms to reduce budget pressures on national systems and promote the meaningful participation of refugees and migrants in health policy discussions to identify and design appropriate interventions for their health needs.
Khalid Ait Taleb, Minister of Health and Social Protection, Kingdom of Morocco, said: “The holding of this meeting in the Kingdom of Morocco supports the tireless efforts of our country for social justice, believing that health is a fundamental right for all, including migrants and refugees.
“In this context, the phenomenon of migration and asylum has always been an integral part of the history of the Kingdom of Morocco, as Morocco is considered a point of intersection between Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and is seen as a transit point, a receiving country and a safe haven for anyone who requests it.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, added: “Refugees and migrants face significant threats to health, and significant barriers to accessing the health services they need. Protecting the health and dignity of refugees and migrants during their often-dangerous journeys, and in the countries hosting them, is a matter of human rights, and human decency. Because health for all means all, including refugees and migrants.”
Raouf Mazou, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner, Operations, said: “Member States today have pledged that no one will be left behind when addressing the health needs of those forcibly displaced. Their commitment to not only include refugees, migrants and their hosting communities in national health policies and plans but, to also include them meaningfully in policy health discussions is a significant momentum towards universal health coverage and worthy of global support.”
* Read the Rabat Declaration here.
* Source: UNHCR, the Refugee Agency