Migrants’ Right to health in Central Asia: Challenges and opportunities

Author/s:
Antoine Chandonnet, Uran Tursunaliev, Kayratbek Jamangulov, Irina Chernykh, Gulshat Amandurdyyeva

Year:
2017

Language:
English

Publication Type:
Reports
(
External
)

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Description: 

The right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – or simply “the right to health” – is explicitly formulated in an array of international law instruments, of which most Central Asian states are part. These instruments define states’ obligation to provide healthcare services for all, without discrimination based on health status, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, language, religion, national origin, income, social status or any other characteristic. This right is particularly important to Central Asian migrants considering the significance of the migration phenomenon in the region. Indeed, the well-being of many households directly depends on migrants’ remittances. Moreover, ongoing processes of regional integration (such as the entry into force of the Eurasian Economic Union) as well as circumstantial factors (for instance the re-entry bans imposed by the Russian Federation on many Central Asian migrants) are intensifying mobility within the Central Asian region. These trends point to the need to address the health challenges of the most mobile and vulnerable groups of all: migrants.

It can be argued that migration’s impact on health is significant and mainly negative. The inability and/or unwillingness to obtain healthcare services in host countries often lead to practices of self-treatment and self-medication, which in the absence of sufficient medical knowledge can bring about negative health outcomes. The relationship between migration and health also concerns trends in migration of healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses (chapter three). Indeed, the migratory behaviour of this group impacts the regional and national distribution of the health workforce, as well as the availability and quality of healthcare services in many regions. Overall, the migratory behaviour of healthcare professionals is dictated by general migration patterns in the Eurasian system. Wage differences and standards of living play an important role in migration decisions of healthcare students and medical personnel. However, other important factors such personal aspirations, self-fulfilment, perspectives of professional growth, specialisation and further training are considered as important determinants of migration choices. In general, the state of development of the medical sector is a strong determinant of migration decision processes of healthcare professionals. The more developed the medical sector is, the less current or future health workers will be prone to migrate. This trend is well illustrated by the differences between the “Kyrgyzstan model” and the “Kazakhstan model”.

Based on assessment results, recommendations were formulated to further realize migrants’ right to health in Central Asia (chapter five). The underlying rationale of these recommendations is that addressing migration health issues is beneficial not only for migrants themselves, but also for the societies
hosting them.

Based on assessment results, recommendations were formulated to further realize migrants’ right to health in Central Asia (chapter five). The underlying rationale of these recommendations is that addressing  migration health issues is beneficial not only for migrants themselves, but also for the societies hosting them. They aim to: 1) enhance legislative and policy frameworks; 2) reduce the impact of legal status on access to healthcare; 3) address specific vulnerabilities, in particular those related to gender, age and legal status; 4) raise migrants’ awareness, knowledge and legal literacy about health impacting factors at the various stages of the migration journey; 5) strengthen migrants’ trust in government institutions; 6) enhance the health workforce’s knowledge and skills about migration health issues; 7) address occupational health risks through involvement of employers and the private sector; 8) establish post-return assistance and medical examination systems in countries of origin; 9) enhance the management of healthcare workers migration; 10) improve data collection and management systems; and 11) further involve migrants and host communities in migration health policy development.

Publisher: 
IOM Kyrgyz Republic