UCL Global


New UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health launched at UN Conference

14 December 2018

UN Conference in Marrakesh sees the launch of a joint global report exposing myths about migration and health

Migrants walking

A new joint commission on migration and health established by UCL and medical journal The Lancet has been launched at the UN ‘Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration’ in Marrakesh on 8 December.

The UCL-Lancet Commission provides evidence in a new report that harmful, unfounded myths about migration and health have become accepted and used to justify policies of exclusion. It calls for cooperation and action on what has become one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.

Speakers at the launch included Jocalyn Clark, Executive Editor, The Lancet; Mesfin Tessema, Senior Director of Health, International Rescue Committee; Inma Vazquez, Médecins Sans Frontières International, Representative to the European Union and Ibrahim Abubakar, Director, UCL Institute for Global Health.

Priority area in global health

Ibrahim introduced the report in a video that highlighted the rights of migrants to healthcare. He said: “Our analysis suggests that migrants are healthier, migrants contribute positively to the economies of host countries and, in wealthy countries such as the UK and the US, migrants constitute a large proportion of the health workforce. It is therefore right that we are tackling this topic as a priority area in global health.” 

He added: “Our report concludes that health should be at the centre of the macroeconomic debate on population movement, that universal health coverage of all migrants is in our collective interest and that it is time for us to work together to challenge the prejudice and racism that is driving bad health outcomes for the most vulnerable migrants.”

Global launch events

The Commission calls on governments to improve migrants’ access to services, strengthen migrants’ right to health, and tackle wider determinants of health, including a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.

Dr Miriam Orcutt (UCL Institute for Global Health), Commission Coordinator, tweeted: “[At the event] we discussed working together across sectors to break down silos in order to bring health into all aspects of migration.” 

Additional launch events took place in New York and Johannesburg on 10 December and in Berlin on 12 December. Further launch events are set to take place in El Salvador on 17 December, in London on 18 January and in Beirut on 8 February.