The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been operating in Southern Africa since the early 1990s. Today, the Organization has a solid regional footprint, with a presence in all 16 member States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and continues to work closely with governments, United Nations country teams (UNCTs) and various stakeholders at the national and regional levels to respond to the multisectoral migration issues faced by the region.

IOM programming is guided by the AU Migration Policy Framework and Action Plan for Africa 2018-2o30 and SADC Regional Migration Policy Framework 2022. Migration health is covered a cross cutting issue, and essential aspect in achieving regional integration and realization of aspirations for free movement.

IOM promotes migrant inclusive policies that address migration-related health vulnerabilities, non-communicable diseases, mental health, occupational health, environmental health, and access to migrant-sensitive health care services to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration where migrants are not left behind.


As a leading agency in border management and health security, IOM supports governments and communities to build migrant-responsive health systems equipped to address public health concerns along the mobility continuum; facilitates targeted, evidence-informed approaches to preparedness, response and recovery, in line with the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR); supports an understanding of the implications of mobility for preparedness and response and contributes to the surveillance and management of outbreaks. Migration health programmes in IOM vision support strengthening Migration health governance, increasing communities’ health resilience, and connecting health security and human mobility.


IOM and its partners strive to create and advise governments on policies that link the global health, migration, and development agendas to bring solutions for migration health issues to the forefront. IOM believes in strengthening partnerships among UN agencies, national governments, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to enable the sharing of information and resources, to improve the understanding of the complex nature of migration, and to build effective programs. Such cooperation enhances the monitoring of migrant health trends and improves the prevalence of migrant-inclusive health policies.


In support of its global mandate on human mobility, IOM maintains a longstanding commitment to building the resilience of displaced persons, migrants and communities uprooted or otherwise affected by crisis or fragility. In 2021 IOM’s health promotion activities in the region included prevention and control of diseases (e.g., SRK-HIV Knows no border project, tuberculosis, and occupational health programs) as well as addressed health system challenges for migrants by supported the provision of primary health care.


IOM approaches outbreak preparedness and response through the lens of human mobility; as a result, IOM has emerged as a key actor in addressing public health emergencies, particularly those that cross borders and are of international concern. Through the provision of comprehensive pre-migration health assessments in the region, IOM contributes to global migration health priorities outlined in World Health Assembly Resolutions 61.17 and 70.15 on the health of migrants and refugees. As a fundamental human right, health is a necessary precondition for migrants to be productive and contribute to the social and economic development of their communities of origin and destination.


Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Migration Programme Framework for East and Horn of Africa and Southern Africa 2023–2027

Migration Health in The Southern African Region | Information Sheet September 2022