As World Marks Health Day, Health Care Remains Inaccessible to Many Migrants: IOM Report

An IOM doctor conducts medical assessments in a village hosting Venezuelan migrants in northern Brazil. Photo: Gema Cortes/IOM 2023

Berlin/Geneva, 08 April – Only half of the countries worldwide assessed in a new report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) grant access to government-funded health services to all migrants.

The findings show that migrant inclusion and access to basic services is uneven and remains a global challenge. The Organization encourages States to intensify efforts to improve access to health and other services through a people-centred approach that engages the whole-of-government. 

“More people can access essential health services today than ever before, but many migrants still go without. Access to health services is a fundamental human right to all people regardless of their status, colour, sex, language, religion, and national or social origins,” said IOM Deputy Director General for Operations, Ugochi Daniels. “This year is an opportunity to stand up and make progress through impactful health policies and services for all. The Migration Governance Indicators initiative shines a spotlight on the way forward.”

The report, by IOM’s Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) initiative, offers key findings and recommendations in shaping migration policies – including migrant access to services – based on data from 100 national and 69 local-level assessments conducted between 2016 and 2023.  

Access to services, such as health and education, is a key indicator of policies that promote migrants’ rights and equal opportunity. Yet, the range of legal access to these services in countries around the world varies widely. For example, 18 per cent of the assessed countries in Europe legally enshrine the right to access health services, compared to 70 per cent of the countries assessed in the Americas.  

Percentage of countries with regulations granting all migrants access to government-funded health and education. Source: IOM

Percentage of countries with regulations granting all migrants access to government-funded health and education. Source: IOM

There are also differences in health care coverage within national and sub-national levels, and between migrant categories such as refugees, labour migrants, asylum seekers, and international students. 

Evidence shows that health access is also hindered by migrants’ reluctance to seek medical care due to their migration status, financial constraints or fear of deportation. The report recommends that governments provide timely information to migrants about their rights and offer administrative alternatives to facilitate access for migrants with irregular status.  

In addition to insights on migrants' access to health services, the report covers other key aspects of migration governance, including measures to trace missing migrants, disaster risk reduction strategies, labour immigration programs, data collection, national migration strategies, and engagement with diaspora communities. 

Notes to editors: 

Launched in 2016, the MGI programme aims to advance evidence-based and people-centered migration policies worldwide. With assessments conducted in 110 countries and 95 states, cities and municipalities, the MGI has established itself as the largest source of data on migration governance globally. 
To read the full report, click here. The executive summary is available here


For more information, please contact: 

Berlin: Jorge Galindo, IOM Global Data Institute, Email:, Tel: +4915226216775 


SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
SDG 4 - Quality Education