PAHO and the Korea International Cooperation Agency join forces to improve access to health for migrants in Peru

PAHO and the Korea International Cooperation Agency launched a joint project to strengthen social inclusion and access to health for migrant and refugee populations in Peru.

Lima, Peru, 20 March 2024 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have launched a joint project to strengthen social inclusion and access to health for migrant and refugee populations in Peru. The project aims to address some of the primary barriers to health for migrants, which account for over 3.7% of the country’s population.

The project, which will be implemented by PAHO in close collaboration with the national and subnational health authorities, is financed by a US$3.4 million grant from KOICA. It has three objectives: identify main health risk factors faced by migrant populations in Peru in order to design and implement effective interventions; improve access to essential health services for migrants and refugees; and reduce xenophobia, stigma and discrimination faced by migrants and refugees in Peru.

“Ensuring access to quality health care for the most vulnerable populations, including migrants, is a key priority for PAHO,” PAHO Director Jarbas Barbosa said. “We welcome this opportunity to work with KOICA on such a crucial issue for our region.”

Social and political conflicts, food insecurity, natural disasters, climate change, and economic difficulties are some of the historical drivers of migration in the Region of the Americas. Since 2015, Peru has seen over a million migrants, primarily due to migration from Venezuela to neighboring countries.

Some of the primary barriers to health faced by migrants in host countries include lack of formal employment and official documentation to access health services, particularly at the primary health care level. Migrants and refugees were also among the hardest hit by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrants and refugees in Peru “are important members of our population and deserve respect,” Vice-minister of Public Health of Peru, Ricardo Peña Sánchez, said. Not only will the project “enable us to optimize migrant health and reduce stigma,” but it will also help strengthen health surveillance and information systems in the country, which will benefit everyone.

In Peru, the majority of migrants are based in Lima (74%), followed by Callao (6%) and La Libertad (5%), which are project intervention areas, as well as Tumbes and Tacna, border regions to the north and south of the country.

Peru has made significant progress to improve migrant health, including the provision of free healthcare for pregnant women and migrant children under the age of five through the state health system, (SIS). The new project will help support the country to expand access to quality health care services for migrants and refugees.

“The KOICA Peru office is committed to contribute to achieving a healthy life and universal health for all,” Director of KOICA Peru, Youngwoo Kim, said. “KOICA is looking forward to the fruition of the project and that it will make real changes in the lives of the people in Peru.”

PAHO works with countries of the Americas to ensure the health of migrant populations through five strategic areas. These include strengthening health surveillance; improving access to health services for migrant and host populations; improving communication and access to information to counter xenophobia, stigma and discrimination; strengthening partnerships and networks; adopting policies and programs to promote and protect the health and well-being of migrants.