IOM inaugurates health assessment centre for migrants, refugees in Central, W/A

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) –Ghana has inaugurated its new Migration Health Assessment Centre (MHAC) in Accra to serve the health needs of migrants and refugees in Central and West Africa.

The facility, under the Migration Health Division (MHD) of IOM Ghana, conducts migration health assessments and provides travel health assistance for refugees and immigrant visa applicants from selected countries.

It was initially at Ridge but relocated into a bigger space at Airport residential area in November last year and fitted with a laboratory, consulting and data capturing rooms, and X-ray machines among other things, to provide more services.

At the inauguration on Tuesday, the IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, Ms Abibatou Wane said the centre was to help improve migrant health assessment which is a well-established migration management service offered by IOM.

At the request of the governments of receiving countries like the United States, Canada, United Kindom and Australia, she said, IOM evaluated the physical and mental health status of migrants prior to their departure.

She said such migrants travelled for the purpose of resettlement, international employment, enrolment in specific migrant assistance programmes, or for obtaining a temporary or permanent visa.

Ms Wane said the health assessment requirements included certain diseases of public health concern such as tuberculosis, general health and vaccinations, all in a bid to ensure that the migration process did not endanger the health of either the migrant or host communities.

Since 2007, she said, IOM Ghana’s Migration Health Division (MHD) had been providing assistance to migrants in conducting health assessments and travel assistance within the sub-region through the UK-TB Accra until it was renamed MHAC, in 2019.

She said the MHD also provided medical services and coordinates migration health activities including health assessment, screenings, DNA sample collection, support to medical cases, and medical escort assistance as required, for 23 countries in West and Central Africa.

Ms Wane said Medical missions were also conducted to strengthen health assessment and travel assistance capacity within the sub-region while the IOM Ghana worked in partnership with multiple stakeholders in the health and migration sectors.

In the centre, she said, there were plans to add a children’s playground, a breastfeeding area and a call centre to help serve clients better.

On caseload of the centre, she said, after the COVID-19 pandemic it decreased and started to pick up last year when the center reached 11,430 health assessment cases in 2021, and in the first seven months of 2022 it had achieved 10,837 cases.

“The Migration Health Division of IOM Ghana can now boast of being one of the best in Africa and also contributing to universal health coverage leaving no one behind,” she said.

IOM Regional Health Assessment Programme Coordinator, Dr Naoum Marwan, said with 272 million international migrants, there was a need for robust migration health systems.

He said Ghana’s centre was the 26th in Africa with plans by IOM to add more.

Head of Port Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Lawrence Lartey, commended the IOM for establishing the centre and pledged the Service’s collaboration to help achieve its purpose. p

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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