Migrant workers

A billion people are on the move today – a seventh of humanity. More than 214 million people are living in a country other than their own as international migrants, half of whom are women. Current trends indicate that international mobility will be a key feature of the 21st Century. Globalization, ease of travel, and the spread of viral information has brought a new reality to the concept of a “small world”, with both a positive and negative impact on countries and communities across the world. As a result, there is an urgent need to manage the various developmental and humanitarian aspects of increasing human mobility migration, including migrants' health. When migrants leave their homes to work abroad, they are often healthy and strong, however, over time good health gives way to misfortune for those who lack access to health services, are exposed to unsafe working conditions, or engaged in risky behaviour such as unsafe sex and substance abuse. This is particularly true among irregular or undocumented migrants who are often forced to take on dirty, dangerous and difficult work to make a living. Migrants working in less regulated labour sectors, such as domestic service and agriculture, are also at risk. But the risk is greater than just that of physical health. Long-term family separation, as well as exploitative and abusive working conditions, can also take its toll on many migrants' mental well-being.

Source : Asian-Pacific Newsletter on occupational health and safety. Volume 19, number 1, May 2012

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