Symposium on migration and global health diplomacy in Gaziantep


Solidarity and multisectoral collaboration in health humanitarian and emergency responses took centre stage at a symposium on migration and global health diplomacy at Gaziantep University in Turkey on 17 May 2016. This international, high-level symposium brought together 300 participants from different sectors, including the Ministry of Health of Turkey, academia, and national and international nongovernmental organizations.

The symposium began with a keynote address on "bringing health to migration and diplomacy" by Professor Ilona Kickbusch, Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. An international panel of experts discussed the opportunities and challenges at the intersection of migration and global health diplomacy.
The Rector of Gaziantep University, Professor Dr Mehmet Yavuz Coşkun, commented that the symposium is the first of its kind, and underscores a much needed interdisciplinary focus in 21st century diplomacy, medicine, humanitarian aid and peace studies. "The symposium heralds the increasing intersection of migration and global health diplomacy. It is also a cutting edge platform to share experiences and discuss future opportunities," he added.

WHO support to public health emergencies

Dr Pavel Ursu, Head of WHO Country Office in Turkey, explained that the symposium highlighted the importance of multisectoral collaboration in health. "Working together with host communities and providing the utmost support are among priority actions of WHO in public health emergencies," he said. To scale up its capacity and respond to the public health emergency arising out of the situation in Syria, WHO established a field presence in Gaziantep to perform high-priority activities such as:

  • technical support for outbreak response and immunization campaigns
  • provision of medical equipment and drugs
  • development and dissemination of information materials to refugees
  • development of capacity of Syrian medical staff.

In close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Gaziantep University and Yıldırım Beyazıt University, the WHO field office in Gaziantep has developed a training course for Syrian doctors and nurses in Turkey that focuses on family medicine and primary health services. Since November 2014, over 200 Syrian doctors and over 100 nurses have completed 12 rounds of trainings. They have been integrated into the health care system to provide these services to Syrian patients in camps and urban settings. Previous trainees also participated in the symposium.

The training is part of WHO's efforts to scale up its operation in response to the refugee crisis in southern Turkey and the country's health sector refugee response plan.