Outbreak Preparedness and Response

“A health threat anywhere is a health threat everywhere”. As the world becomes more interconnected with unprecedented migration and human mobility, a health threat present in the most remote corner of the world has a real probability of becoming a health threat to the rest of the world. Through globalization, trade and travel, infectious diseases now spread faster and farther, while at the same time, most countries are not prepared to face such threats. While far flung air travel may contribute to the wide spread of diseases, the traditional movement of people within countries and cross-border, carried out as part of daily lives and livelihoods, may cause prolonged transmission of diseases at a more localized level.

With migration and human mobility at the core of the organization’s mandate, IOM’s approach to responding to disease outbreaks and preparing for future health threats is particularly anchored upon human mobility, notably through the Health, Border and Mobility Management (HBMM) framework. HBMM has the ultimate goal of improving prevention, detection and response to the spread of infectious diseases and other health threats along the mobility continuum (at origin, transit, destination and return points) and its spaces of vulnerability, with particular focus on border areas. At the core of HBMM is the understanding that mobility is a continuum that extends beyond the physical or regulated border areas, such as the official Points of Entry (or PoEs, as articulated within the International Health Regulations - IHR, 2005), to include pathways and spaces of vulnerability.

Indeed, the reality of human mobility goes far beyond these border crossings. In fact, borders should be seen as spaces, not only just as lines dividing countries, nor as points of crossing. In many parts of the world, communities living around international border lines share familial and social ties across the border – for them, these administrative lines are meaningless, and international movement is a common part of daily life.

IOM’s Health, Border and Mobility Management (HBMM) Framework

HBMM endeavors to build human mobility competent health systems, essential for global health security. Such systems are responsive to the dynamics of human mobility and are inclusive, ensuring Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which leaves no one behind, not even migrants and mobile populations (MMPs),  regardless of their status. UHC is a fundamental dimension of both individual and collective health security and is an essential feature of resilient and sustainable health systems. HBMM unifies border management, human and health security that ultimately supports the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). Implementing HBMM, based on primary health care, achieves equity in health and renders health systems better able to prevent, detect and respond to epidemic and endemic infectious diseases.