The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) joined the Department of Health (DOH) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) in organizing the 2nd National Symposium on Migration Health Research at Century Park Hotel, Manila on November 27, 2019.

With the theme “Achieving Universal Health Care for Overseas Filipinos Through Evidence-Informed Policy and Practice,” the symposium gathered representatives from DOH bureaus and attached agencies, Philippine Migration Health Network (PMHN), civil society organizations, academic institutions, and international organizations to continue the dialogue about critical health issues faced by today’s Filipino migrants. The event was graced by DOH OIC-Assistant Secretary Dr. Kenneth G. Ronquillo and IOM Chief of Mission Kristine Dadey.

Dir. Marita Apattad delivered the message of CFO Secretary Francisco Acosta, citing “Promoting and advocating for the welfare and well-being of our Filipino diaspora has always been at the forefront of the services of the Commission. We have assisted overseas Filipinos who were victims of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, work or training exploitation, domestic abuse and violence, and those suffering from different illnesses such as mental health problems, HIV-AIDS and other sexual and reproductive diseases, among others. These are some of the pressing issues on top of other health-related concerns faced by our migrants such as occupational health and safety issues, rise in communicable and noncommunicable diseases, lack of access to basic health services especially the irregulars, lack of awareness of the host country’s social and health services, and portability of health insurance and benefits. The complexity of these health problems needs a more comprehensive approach that no single agency or DOH alone can resolve. Stakeholders from the government, private sectors, civil society, and migrants themselves must cooperate to address in holistic manner these serious demands brought about by migration.”

A wide range of migrant health issues was raised during the symposium, as well as mainstreaming initiatives of health in migration and vice versa. Resource speakers from the Philippines and abroad include Dr. Kolitha Wickramage of IOM, who discussed “Global and Regional Migration Health Researches”; Prof. Stella Go of Philippine Migration Research Network, who discussed “The Philippine Migration Health Research Agenda”; Dr. Joel Buenaventura of DOH, who discussed “Surveillance Data of HIV and AIDS cases among those with History of Overseas Work in the Philippines”; Dr. Anna Marie Celina Garfin of DOH, who discussed “International Tuberculosis Referral and Surveillance”; Dr. Antonio Bautista of DOH, who discussed “Prevalence of Malaria Cases and Deaths among Returning OFs”; Dr. Bernard Argamosa of the National Center for Mental Health, who discussed “Psychiatric Profile of Overseas Filipinos”; Dr. Lucy Jordan of The University of Hongkong, who discussed “Child Health and Migrant Parents in South East Asia (CHAMPSEA) Study”; Executive Director Mara Quesada-Bondad of Action for Health Initiatives, Inc., who discussed “Reintegration of OFWs Diagnosed with HIV”; Dr. Erwin Faller of Tagum Doctors College, who discussed “Aches and Pains of Filipino Migrant Workers in Malaysia: A Profile of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders”; Dr. Nanette Lee Mayol of University of San Carlos, who discussed “Health of Philippine Emigrants Study”; and Dr. Melissa Garabiles of Ateneo de Manila University, who discussed “Exploring Co-Morbidity between Anxiety and Depression among Migrant Filipino Domestic Workers.”


The CFO, which leads the PMHN’s Policy, Advocacy, and Research Committee under the DOH, fully supports the initiative and activities of the Network, and continues to innovate and strengthen its services for the growing Filipino diaspora.