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Health issues affecting female internal migrant workers: A systematic review

Authors:

Upul Senarath ,

Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, LK
About Upul
Professor in Community Medicine
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Kolitha Wickramage,

International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva, CH
About Kolitha
Public Health Specialist and Research Coordinator, Migration Health Division
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Sharika Peiris

International Organization for Migration (IOM), Sri Lanka, LK
About Sharika
Head of Migration Health
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Abstract

Background Economic contribution by internal migrant workers, in particular the workers in Export Processing Zones (EPZ) in Sri Lanka, is well recognized, yet the social and health consequences are unknown.

Objective To systematically review the health issues affecting female internal migrant workers in EPZ in Sri Lanka

Methods A literature review was conducted through electronic databases and hand searches of grey literature. Studies eligible for inclusion were those reported health or social issues among females employed in an industry within EPZ from 1978 to 2012. Studies were selected using a defined checklist for their methodological quality and in relation to measurement of health status.

Results Of the 550 studies identified, eight publications were included for the review. The respondents were relatively young and educated females, and the large majority have migrated predominantly from rural areas to work in garment factories located in urban centers. These studies described health issues related to nutrition, reproductive health, mental health, musculo-skeletal disorders and gender issues. The review identified high prevalence of nutritional deficiencies such as underweight and anaemia; risky sexual behavior; and psychological disorders among female factory workers. Migrant workers had higher prevalence of anaemia and psychological depression than their nonmigrant counterparts. As a positive effect, women experienced empowerment through gaining income and new knowledge.

Conclusions Female migrant workers generally tend to exhibit some disadvantage due to health risks, and are more likely to be subject to ill-health than non-migrants. More rigorous research is needed to determine true health impacts within this population.  

DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v21i1.8080
How to Cite: Senarath, U., Wickramage, K. & Peiris, S., (2016). Health issues affecting female internal migrant workers: A systematic review. Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka. 21(1), pp.4–17. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jccpsl.v21i1.8080
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Published on 18 Jul 2016.
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