Intended for healthcare professionals


WHO’s global action plan to promote the health of refugees and migrants

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 01 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4806
  1. Stuti Pant, UK coordination member1,
  2. Ben Eder, foundation year 2 doctor1 2,
  3. Ana Vračar, regional coordinator3,
  4. Davide Mosca, chief executive4 5,
  5. Miriam Orcutt, senior research fellow5
  1. 1People’s Health Movement UK,London, UK
  2. 2Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, London, UK
  3. 3People’s Health Movement Europe, Zagreb, Croatia
  4. 4Realizing Health SDGs for Migrants, Displaced, and Communities, Italy
  5. 5Institute for Global Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M Orcutt m.orcutt{at}

Responses to migration must remain firmly rooted in social justice

In May 2019, the 72nd World Health Assembly acknowledged the health of refugees and migrants as a global priority through the acceptance of the World Health Organization’s global action plan to promote their health.1 Since then, however, the discrepancy between policy rhetoric and global reality has continued to be painfully apparent, with high profile media coverage of deaths of migrant children, separation of children from parents, and detention in appalling conditions on the US border2 and direct targeting of migrant detention centres3 and indefinite detention in overcrowded conditions without drinking water or sanitation in Libya.4

The global action plan is intended to guide WHO, partner agencies, and governments in meeting the health related objectives identified in the 2018 global compacts on migration and refugees56 and strengthen international cooperation to protect people on the move. The action plan acknowledges that to prevent inequities, public health considerations for refugees and migrants cannot …

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