Background: Migration and health are increasingly recognised as a global public health priority, but concerns have been raised on the skewed nature of current research and the potential disconnect between health needs and policy and governance responses. The Migration Health South Asia (MiHSA) network led the first systematic research priority-setting exercise for India, aligned with the global call to develop a clearly defined migration health research agenda that will inform research investments and guide migrant-responsive policies by the year 2030.
Methods: We adapted the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) method for this priority setting exercise for migration health. Guided by advisory groups established at international and country levels, we sought research topics from 51 experts from diverse disciplines and sectors across India. We consolidated 223 responses into 59 research topics across five themes and scored them against five predefined criteria: answerability, effectiveness, feasibility, impact, and effect on equity. We then calculated research priority scores (RPS) and average expert agreement (AEA) each research topic and theme.
Results: A third of the 59 research topics were on migrants' health and health care access, 12 on social determinants of migrants' health, 10 on policies, law and migration health governance, eight on health systems' responsiveness, and five on migration health discourse. Three of the top five priority topics pertained to migrants' health care access. The policies, law, and governance theme had the highest overall RPS score.
Conclusions: There is a noticeable gap between research priorities identified by experts at the country-level and the current research focus and priorities set globally. This disconnect between the global and local perspectives in migration health scholarship hinders the development of context-specific and suitable policy agendas for improving migrants' health. Our co-developed agenda emphasises the need to prioritise research on the capacity of existing systems and policies so as to make them more migration-aware and responsive to migrants' health needs.