The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a region associated with high rates of population mobility – mostly associated with movement within and across national borders to access improved livelihood opportunities, a high prevalence of communicable diseases – notably HIV and tuberculosis, and inequity in health and well-being. Migration is acknowledged to be a central determinant of health and well-being, and the bidirectional nature of this relationship – with health and well-being influencing migration – is increasingly recognised. In spite of this, policy, programmatic and health system responses to health and well-being within the SADC region fail to engage with the movement of people. Key to this failure is that discussions related to the development of responses to population mobility and health are inherently political, often fuelled by anti-foreigner sentiments and unsupported claims negatively associating migrants with the spread of communicable diseases. Evidence-informed responses are lacking and current health responses – including communicable disease control programmes – will continue to struggle unless the movement of people is considered. This research theme explores migration as a social determinant of health and well-being, and explores the associations between policy responses and the lived experiences of diverse migrant groups in the region.
This theme includes the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa (maHp), supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award held by Associate Professor Jo Vearey. Through a series of unique research and public engagement projects, the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa (maHp) aims to explore (and evaluate) ways to generate and communicate knowledge in order to improve responses to migration, health and well-being in the SADC region. Multiple disciplinary perspectives, mixed method approaches, and the involvement of various stakeholders – including migrants themselves – are central considerations.