IOM Migration Health Service (MHS) is the most well-established migration service offered by IOM. It includes the evaluation of physical and mental health status of migrants for all stages of migrants’ movement such as: pre-embarkation medical checking and counseling, medical escorting during the trip, disembarkation checking and assistance for contacting the adequate healthcare services of the return/host country. The purpose of the health assessment is to identify and address the migrants’ public health concerns in order to mitigate the impact of the migrants’ disease burden on the national healthcare or social services.
IOM Minsk is the only institution in Belarus accredited by the Immigration Authorities of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America for medical clearance, which ensures full compliance with the required standards and prevents entry visa rejection cases, which result from negligent and unprofessional examinations and processing of medical documents.
All medical services are performed by qualified medical personnel, trained in migration medicine and in strict compliance with particular immigration health services requirements, which vary in different countries of resettlement. The IOM Minsk Medical Unit is ably handled by its core medical team: 1 national medical officer/paediatrician, 1 experienced external medical escort and 2 program assistants.
IOM Minsk MHS is based at the State Medical Enterprise MTZ “Medservice” which has a wide range of specialists, services, diagnostic and vaccination facilities; therefore all the necessary clinical data and services may be obtained efficiently and without delay. An efficient cooperation has been established with the Central Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Diagnostic Laboratory.
IOM Minsk Medical Unit has been performing medical examinations for immigration applicants from Belarus and countries of the former USSR since 1999. Since the beginning of its work in Minsk, IOM MHS has assisted over 10,000 migrants in getting medical clearance.
IOM Minsk Medical Unit currently conducts health assessment for the following categories of migrants:
- resettlement visa applicants to the USA, including immigrant visa;
- applicants for various visa types to Canada, Australia and New Zealand;
- migrants under the Assisted Voluntary Return program (AVR);
- any other country visa holders who may need medical clearance upon request.
Examination for tuberculosis (TB)
TB screening is an integral part of Migration Health Assessment. Following WHO’s recommendations to prevent TB spreading, MHS increased its efforts to improve the detection rate of tuberculosis among migrant populations. IOM Minsk MHS cooperates with the national TB institution, which provides direct supervision of sputum collection by IOM trained nurses. MHS provides technical assistance and training to local staff.
Upon the request and in full compliance with the guidelines of the receiving countries, immunization is provided to certain categories of migrants.
IOM Minsk Medical Unit is accredited to conduct medical examinations for children from Belarus’ orphanages adopted by the citizens of Canada. IOM pediatrician is an experienced physician, familiar with orphans’ development peculiarities and problems of age-specific medicine. She is the only doctor authorized by the Canadian Embassy to conduct this type of examinations.
Occupational health care
IOM staff works in a wide variety of situations, some of which involve substantial health risks, and the role of the occupational health care is to ensure the highest possible level of physical form of the staff. The range of the occupational health care activities of the IOM Minsk Medical Unit is as follows:
- Entry medical examinations for staff joining IOM;
- Annual medical examination for staff driving IOM vehicles;
- Seasonal vaccinations against flue for IOM Minsk staff.
IOM psychiatrists perform medical counseling for patients with positive HIV/Hepatitis B/C blood test.
Medical supervision of transportation abroad
While arranging the transportation of immigrants abroad, IOM is committed to meeting its engagement to the carriers and other passengers travelling on a commercial aircraft. In this respect the following services are carried by IOM MHS in Minsk.
- Treatment prior to departure
Performed for the passengers with unstable health conditions normally 2 weeks prior to departure and is aimed at improving the patient’s health so that he/she could endure the journey without any undesirable consequences.
- Pre-embarkation checks
The procedure is performed to identify the passengers who may not be fit to fly.
- Medical Escort
Medical escorts are provided to migrants who need assistance and care en route. Such people could be identified during the medical examination and/or pre-embarkation check.
Medical component of the Assisted Voluntary Return program (AVR)
Migrants who have failed to gain asylum or stranded migrants are assisted by IOM Minsk to voluntarily return to their countries. The provision of health assessments in the assisted voluntary returns is not a mandatory practice but undertaken if needed due to medical conditions of the returnees or upon request of the reception countries. Within its AVR programme, IOM Minsk MHS offers an examination that includes a physical check, mental health examination and so-called “fitness to travel” assessment, as well as provides medical escorting services to the final destination.