Original Language
Number of Pages
Date of upload

06 oct 2015

IOM-MPI Issue in Brief No. 2 - Asian Labour Migrants and Health: Exploring Policy Routes

Migrant health issues have risen on the agenda of policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years. The challenge now is how to translate the momentum generated at the highest levels of government into visible change on the ground.

Many Asian migrant workers, especially those working under temporary contracts, continue to face challenges in accessing health facilities and services. The reasons for underutilization of health services include lack of health insurance, poverty, social exclusion, language and cultural differences, administrative hurdles and legal status. 

In Asian Labour Migrants and Health: Exploring Policy Routes, authors Jaime Calderon, Barbara Rijks and Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias examine the myths, risk factors and stakeholders involved in migrant health issues in the region.

The issue brief finds that translating political momentum into real change requires adoption of concrete initiatives aimed at two overarching objectives: 1) strengthening intersectoral collaboration at the national level and 2) increasing cross-border cooperation between countries of origin and destination.

The brief, the second in a series launched by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), identifies five sets of recommendations to move the policy discourse on migrants’ health forward. The issue brief series, which will run monthly through December, is focusing on several facets of migration in Asia: labour migration, diaspora engagement and climate-induced migration.

The first issue brief, Labour Migration from the Colombo Process Countries, examines labour migration from the 11 Colombo Process countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam), with an estimated 44.7 million migrants from the region living outside their country of origin. 

The issue briefs are available at IOM Online Bookstore  and at Migration Policy Institute.

  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction
  • II. Untangling myths from realities
  • III. Health challenges of Asian labour migrants
  • IV. Towards a multisectoral and cross-border approach to migrant health: Five recommended steps
    •     Moving the policy discourse on migrant health: Five steps forward
  1. Conduct a review of labour, migration and health policies at the national level
  2. Designate migration health focal points to coordinate policy and programme responses
  3. Pursue bilateral and regional dialogue and cooperation, including through forging bilateral  agreements and creating information-sharing mechanisms
  4. Aim for standardization
  5. Include migrant views during policy formulation and programme implementation
  • References
  • Endnotes
  • About the Authors