Press Release

Ministry of Health Establishes National Technical Working Group for Migrant Health

09 August 2021

Phnom Penh – Amidst the global pandemic which has brought to the forefront the need to for comprehensive national health care coverage and equity in access to health care services, Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH) has given the green light to the establishment of the National Working Group for Migrant Health, under the joint Vice-Chair Secretariat of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

This marks a milestone for IOM Cambodia which has over the past few years supported the Royal Government of Cambodia in ramping up efforts to include migrant workers in the national healthcare coverage and address the specific vulnerabilities they face. The Migrant Health Policy was endorsed by MoH in February 2021 with previous series of workshops facilitated by IOM Cambodia , where the initial talks on the on the development of the National Strategic Plan (2021-2030) also took place.

Kristin Parco, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Cambodia commented that the endorsement of the National Migration Health Policy will enhance the equitable access for migrants to health promotion and disease prevention. “The inclusion of migrant health in the development of national strategies will significantly contribute to the implementation of the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in by the Royal Government of Cambodia,” Parco said.

“A champion country for GCM implementation, Cambodia is taking big steps to also become a migrant health champion country and lead by example in the region. The priority now is to develop and operationalize the National Strategic Plan of Action. Cambodia can be proud of its approach to strengthening migration governance and efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.

Migrant workers in Cambodia, many of whom have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic often face barriers in accessing essential health services, such as their irregular employment status, lack of financial means and indebtedness and sometimes it is simply lack of information on how and where they can access health care.

In 2017, at a regional level discussion, MoH with the support from IOM Cambodia, committed to developing a Migrant Health Policy. Following this, a situation analysis was conducted in 2018 to analyse the specific situation of migrant workers in Cambodia and identify health challenges and existing legal frameworks which promote migrant health.

A technical consultation followed in December 2018, which involved MoH and other key ministries: Interior, Labour and Vocational Training and Education, Youth and Sports. The consultation resulted in a draft Migrant Health Policy and a recommendation to create a technical working group on the development of this policy.

Between January 2019 and February 2021, a series of 13 technical working group meetings took place to seek inputs from key stakeholders such as technical departments of MoH, hospitals, WHO and ILO. Finally, the Migrant Health Policy was adopted in February 2021.

Chanthida Dum, National Project Officer at IOM Cambodia, who supported MoH throughout the process said that IOM will continue to support MoH to finalize National Strategic Plan (2021-2030) and develop operational guidelines together with the national Technical Working Group for Migrant Health.

Ministry of Health Establishes National Technical Working Group for Migrant Health

Marta Walkowiak

Program Development and Communications

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World Health Organization

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