19 Jun, 23 / post / Reviews
“We Need to Sustain Migrant Health Forums to Infinity and Beyond”

Vearey, J., Walker, R., and Govere, E. (2023). “We Need to Sustain Migrant Health Forums to Infinity and Beyond”: A Review of the Effectiveness and Sustainability of Migrant Health Forums Established by IOM and Government Stakeholders in South Africa. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva.


Multisectoral coordination mechanisms are some of the strategies that have been found effective in promoting the health of migrants and their host communities, while at the same time strengthening collaboration and coordination among stakeholders. Since 2008, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has supported the establishment of migrant health forums (MHFs) across South Africa, in places where migration and health projects are being implemented – namely, Johannesburg, Vhembe District, Mopani District and Ehlanzeni District.

Considering the critical role that MHFs can play in promoting multisectoral coordination and collaboration, IOM South Africa commissioned an assessment in 2022 to understand how to better strengthen the effectiveness and sustainability of the MHFs. The assessment utilized a qualitative approach that involved a desk review and semi-structured interviews with key informants from the Government, civil society organizations and IOM.

A qualitative approach consisting of desk research and semi-structured interviews was utilized to conduct the review. Key informants from the Government, civil society and IOM were interviewed to explore the structure and formation of the MHFs, funding mechanisms and sustainability approaches.

The findings of the assessment reveal that MHFs are able to:

  1. Promote better understanding of migration and health among stakeholders by creating opportunities for them to share experiences and lessons;
  2. Support stakeholders in strengthening coordination and collaboration among partners working in the area of migration and health;
  3. Create a hub for health and non-health stakeholders to deliberate on the impacts (both positive and negative) of migration on the health of migrants and their host communities;
  4. Serve as dialogue spaces that bridged research and advocacy gaps through the dissemination of research findings to influence policy reform and implementation.

The review found that the sustainability of MHFs is feasible if they are government-led, issue-specific and embedded within coordination structures at all levels of policy implementation. It is clear that MHFs are integral structures that can promote the appreciation of dialogue and action on migration and health. It is recommended that MHFs be mandated to the relevant spheres of government that can direct relevant departments to act as required.