Logo en Global Donate now


Document Details


Print and save

Report/Press release





International Organization for Migration (IOM)


Migrant health issues have risen on the agenda of policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region in recent years, generating momentum at the very highest levels of government. The challenge now is how to translate this momentum into visible changes on the ground. Despite progress on both policy and programmatic fronts, Asian migrant workers continue to face challenges in accessing health facilities and services at all stages of migration – before departure, while in transit, at destination and upon return.
Moving the policy discourse on migrant health issues forward and ensuring changes on the ground first require disentangling myths from realities. There is a persistent public perception that labour migrants are carriers of diseases or that they are a burden to the health systems of the countries that receive them. The reality, however, is different. Labour migrants are generally young and healthier than the native population and they tend to underutilize health services at destination. Labour migrants’ vulnerability to ill health, however, increases during the migration process due to various risk factors such as lack of adequate health insurance, poverty and uncertain legal status.
It is important to identify these risk factors as well as the stakeholders at each stage of the migration cycle in order to map out shared goals. Translating the political momentum requires adopting concrete initiatives aimed at two overarching objectives: 1) strengthening intersectoral collaboration at the national level and 2) strengthening cross-border cooperation between countries of origin and destination. To this end, there is an emerging consensus among various actors to: (1) review labour, migration and health policies at the national level to ensure policy coherence; (2) designate migration health focal points within relevant government departments to ensure multisectoral coordination on policies and programmes at national and subnational levels of government; (3) pursue bilateral and regional dialogue and cooperation, including through forging bilateral agreements and creating information-sharing mechanisms (4) aim for cross-border standardization in critical areas, from data collection on the legal, social and health aspects of the migration process to medical testing and social protection schemes; and (5) include migrants’ views in policy formulation and programme implementation.

Series title

Issue in Brief-A Joint Series of the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Migration Policy Institute

Document number

Issue No.2

Number of pages


Responsible institution

International Organization of Migration(IOM), Migration Policy Institute (MPI)

File Attachments


Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

(Im)migrants workers, Policymakers, Journalists, Public awareness, Employers, agencies and their representatives, Researchers, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks

Geographical focuses

Asia, China, Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Regional relevance, Cambodia, and Singapore

Spheres of activity

Health sciences and Law