Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature

Authors: Simkhada, P., Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E. and Aryal, N.

Start date: 12 April 2017

Journal: 15th BNAC Nepal Study Days

Pages: 1-16

Publisher: Britain-Nepal Academic Council

Place of Publication: London

Background: The health and well-being of migrant workers from low-income countries is often neglected in travel medicine. This paper uses Nepal as a case study to highlight key issues affecting this particular group of international travellers. Methods: This narrative review used a comprehensive systematic literature search to identify relevant studies on Nepal. The included papers were thematically analysed leading to four key themes or risk factors. Results: The search found 18 papers from which we identified three key themes related directly to migrant workers: (1) sexual risk taking; (2) occupational health; and (3) lifestyles, and a fourth theme related to partners and family of migrant workers who are left behind in Nepal. Of the 18 included papers, 11 papers discussed sexual risk taking and HIV, whilst considerably fewer focused on work-related risk factors and lifestyle factors in migrant workers. Conclusions: Migrant workers who are generally healthy appear to be similar to tourist travellers in regarding sexual health as a key issue related to being abroad. Risky sexual behaviour increases in individuals separated from their usual sexual partners, away from their own communities and families, leading to so-called ‘situational disinhibition’. Considering the recent media coverage of deaths and injuries among migrant workers in the Middle East, it is interesting to see that their sexual health is more prevalent in the research literature. This paper argues that travel medicine should provide more emphasis to the health and well-being of migrant workers as a highly vulnerable group of travellers with additional impact on the health of those left behind.

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