The 2016 regional forum on migrants and mobile population health hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF), and Luke International, Norway (LIN) was held on 13-14 October in South Africa. Amid the new sustainable development goals (SDGs) era, the theme of this bi-annual event in 2016 was selected to be “Breaking silos: Creating sustainable regional health governance system and programs in the SADC region.” The theme was chosen to facilitate knowledge sharing and open discussion among member states, especially in related to implementation experiences of regional projects and eHealth related activities in managing the health of migrants and mobile populations in the Southern and Eastern Africa regions. More than 50 participants attended the forum, with representatives from the Ministry of Health of 10 SADC member states, and international organizations including UNDP, ILO, WHO, USAID, MSF, Partners in Hope and foreign embassies that are involved in the work of cross-border initiatives or regional programs on migrants and mobile population health. The forum was officially opened by the Minister of Health of Kingdom of Swaziland, Hon. Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane and the Representative of Taiwan, Amb. John Chen, and the directors of the hosting country and forum organizers.
IOM documented that an estimate of 232 million individuals worldwide are considered to be international migrants in 2013. This denotes a dramatic jump of more than 40% from 150 million just over a decade ago in 2000. This number stands for 3.1% of world’s population, suggesting one in every 7 persons in the world’s population is a migrant, according to the statistics, out of total migrants, 19 million were estimated to be in Africa. The Southern African region experiences all types of movements, including mixed and irregular migration, labour migration and displacement due to conflict and natural disasters. By virtue of its strong economic position in the continent, Southern Africa experiences a high volume of migration due to work opportunities in the mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries. Recognizing the importance of migration’s role in global health and development, it is critical for migrants and mobile population to be able to access quality care and treatment.