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Migration and Climate Change: Defining issues for Global Health

Migration and Climate Change: Defining issues for Global Health

Prof.Bernadette N. Kumar
President EUPHA Section for Migrant and Ethnic Minority Health

Co- Chair Lancet Migration

Chair Global Society on Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Health

Norwegian Institute of Public Health

The UCL Lancet Commission on Migration Health (2018) calls migration the defining issue of our times, essential to growing economies and an integral part of the socio-cultural fabric of our societies. It is imperative to understand why this is the case, how migration health has evolved and where we are headed. Despite the positive impacts of migration globally, with international labor workers contributing to economies worldwide, migrants often face challenges that threaten basic human rights, including the right to health clearly evident from the COVID 19 pandemic. Global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage, equity in health, and international agreements aim to improve the responses to migration, however global health policies are still not migrant inclusive. With rising populism and xenophobic rhetoric in many countries, societies ought to be engaged effectively to counter misinformed narratives, harmful migration policies should be discouraged and provision of universal access to health care ensured. Another defining issue of our times is climate change. Climate change means that people have to move often involuntarily. People used to a certain way of living, certain livelihoods, lifestyles, health risks and advantages will experience change. There are definitely very strong intersections between climate change and migration. Therefore, we must view these with the intersectionality lens and using a cross-cutting approach, which means we need to break down the silos. Migration and agricultural economy are interlinked: rural societies change due to rural- urban migration and that definitely affects agricultural economies. At the same time, agricultural economies are not what they used to be 25 years ago-30 years ago. The only way prevent migration in these settings is therefore ensuring sustainable living conditions conducive to livelihoods. Many of the gaps in research, policy and practice remain unmet and as the fields of migration health and climate change evolve, these ought to be bridged through changes in policy and practice. Global academic institutions, civil society, UN agencies, and governments must collaborate to address the principles of intersectionality in research, and to hold stakeholders accountable. Radical action is crucial; to transform evidence at local, regional, and global levels, to contribute to improving health and preventing morbidity and mortality for migrants and nationals, and to strive towards leaving no one behind.

Bernadette Nirmal Kumar

Bernadette Nirmal Kumar, a medical graduate from St. Johns Medical College, India, has a doctorate in Epidemiology and Public Health from the University of Oslo, Norway and post-doctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Psychiatry, University of Oslo. Kumar has several years' international experience working for UNICEF, WHO, WFP, World Bank and NORAD in Southern Sudan, Somalia, North West Kenya, West Bank and Gaza, North Korea, China and Bhutan (1989-2000). Migration and Health has been the focus of her research since 1999 and she is the co-editor and author of Text Book on Immigrant Health in Norway: Flerkulturelt folkehelsearbeid (Fagbokforlaget 2009) and Migrant Health – A Primary Care Perspective( Taylor and Francis, 2019). In 2010, she was appointed Director of NAKMI -Norwegian Center for Migration and Minority Health ( part of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, 2018) and Associate Professor, Global Health at the Institute for Health and Society, University of Oslo (2013). She is Professor at the Empower School of Health, India and Affiliated Professor at Kathmandu University, Nepal. She is President of the EUPHA Section of Migration and Ethnic Minority Health (2018-) and leads the Migration Health work package of the EU Joint Action on Health Inequalities. Kumar was the Lancet Commission on Migration and Health (2018) and is Co-chair of Lancet Migration. She is also the Chair of the Global Society on Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Health.