Health vulnerabilities of India bound migrants from Nepal

Summary: Health vulnerabilities of India bound migrants from Nepal (Completed)

Nepal is a gowing supplier of migrant workers. An estimated 4 million Nepalese are working abroad, primarily in India, Malaysia and the Middle East Since employment and other opportunities within the country are limited, many view international migration as a livelihood strategy. Most migrant workers are involved in high-risk unskilled and semi-skilled jobs. Men mainly work in construction sites and factories whereas women work mainly in domestic work.

The economic contribution of Nepalese migrants to the country is significant. In 2015 they remitted over USD 4 billion, or 28% of Nepal’s total gross domestic product (GDP). The choice of destination country is determined by the income, education and socio-economic status (SES) of Nepalese migrants as well as the types of work available in receiving countries. For example, people of lower SES tend to favor India, the Middle East and Malaysia for work.
Because the border between Nepal and India is open and travel there is cheap, India is a key destination. Reliable information on cross-border mobility is not available, however as proper recording and reporting systems are lacking.

That said, estimates suggest that some 1.6 million Nepalese work in India as seasonal laborers. The majority of Nepalese migrant workers in India are of low SES and have very limited access to health information and services both within India and within Nepal. Most perform demanding jobs, mainly as restaurant workers in big restaurants, hotels or roadside eateries (dhaba), factory workers, watchmen, drivers, domestic workers, agriculture workers, porters, quarries, coalminers, rickshaw pullers, and Indian government civil servants.

Nepalese labor migrants in India are vulnerable to many health problems, including infectious diseases such as HIV, TB, and malaria. However, there is little evidence related to the health of cross-border migrants. This fact, as well economic dependence of migrants on their jobs and the prevalence of migratory behavior, justifies the focus of this research on the health vulnerabilities of cross-border migrants from Nepal.

The main objective was to explore health vulnerabilities of cross-border migrants from Nepal. The objectives of this study were: (i) To describe the general health status of returnee migrants from India; (ii) To assess the health vulnerabilities of returnee migrants from India and their spouses; and, (iii) To determine the accessibility of health care services of returnee migrants while in India and back home in Nepal as well as to assess the health-seeking behaviors and the barriers to their accessing health services in both countries.

Relevant publication:
International Organization for Migration. (2019) Cross-border health vulnerability research Conducted among India bound returnee migrants from Nepal. Available at:

Dhungana, R.R., Aryal, N., Adhikary, P., Kc, R.K., Regmi, P.R., Devkota, B., Sharma, G.N., Wickramage, K., van Teijlingen, E. and Simkhada, P., 2019 Psychological morbidity in Nepali cross-border migrants in India: A community based cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 19 (1)

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