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Thursday, 08 February 2018 13:28

IOM-UN Agency calls for multi-sectoral approach in handling migrants’ SRH challenges

Written by  Sarah Munthali
Nkomo...Migrants need to access SRH services. Pic by Sarah Munthali Nkomo...Migrants need to access SRH services. Pic by Sarah Munthali

Mchinji, February 8: The International Organisation for Migration (IOM)-United Nations Agency has called for a multi-sectoral approach in dealing with migrants’ sexual reproductive health issues in the country.

IOM-UN Migration Agency Head of Office in Malawi, Mpilo Nkomo, made the call in Mponela, Dowa on Tuesday, during the opening of a national level multi-sectoral dialogue meeting on migration and sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR)/HIV issues in Malawi.

Nkomo said despite the availability of effective biomedical interventions and improved understanding of SRH and HIV, the SADC region and Malawi in particular,  continues to experience high rates of preventable maternal mortality, teenage pregnancy and HIV  among adolescent migrants, hence the need for organisations and governments to address such issues.

“IOM is implementing a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights-HIV knows no Borders Project in Mchinji, Mwanza and Neno.

“This was after realising that SRHR and HIV among adolescent migrants is a worldwide concern and needs attention by governments, partners and the society at large in particular, along the transport corridors where sexual activities are at higher rate,” he explained.

Nkomo said it has been observed that there are challenges for migrants to access health services because they are perceived generally to be a problem.

“The challenge for migrants failing to access SRH services is extensive, the majority of migrants who are not documented are scared to approach institutions for them to access services and the attitude by some hospital staff to the migrants is a concern because they are perceived as people who are depleting resources that are meant for local people,” he observed.

World Health Assembly Resolution 61:17 acknowledges that the health of migrants is an important public health matter; hence the need for member states to formulate and implement strategies to improve the health of migrants.

Nkomo also expressed the need to protect migrants buy ensuring that health services are extended to them if the country is to attain the UN AIDS 90:90:90 target.

In an interview, a reproductive Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Hans Katengeza, said the ministry’s guidelines respect access to services by people but not just migrants in particular.

“We are taking advantage of this meeting to meet and consider issues of migrants, especially in border districts, however there is need to address challenges regarding identity cards and the language problem to effectively address the issue,” he added.

Katengeza commended IOM for the project which is improving the migrants’ access to health services within and across the borders.

The National level multi sectoral dialogue meeting on migration and sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR)/HIV issues in Malawi was attended by government officials from ministries of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Local Government Departments, health officials from the ministry and the border districts of Mwanza, Neno and Mchinji.

The meeting was organised to, among other things, strengthen cooperation and coordination among sectors and partners which will lead to improved migrants’ access to health services.

IOM is implementing the SRHR-HIV Knows No Borders project in partnership with the Government of Malawi, Save the Children, Wits School of Public Health  and local implementing partners in other SADC countries namely Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.