IOM, Cambodian Ministry of Health, Strengthen Migrant Health Services in Border Areas

Posted: 
08/02/10

IOM has launched a one-year project to build the capacity of the
Cambodian Ministry of Health (MOH) and relevant provincial health
departments to improve the health of Cambodian migrants and their
families in border areas.

The USD 192,300 IOM-funded initiative, which will be in close
cooperation with development partners, aims to create a focal point
within the ministry tasked with assessing migrant health needs in
Cambodia's border provinces of Banteay Meanchey and Svay Rieng.

In 2009 an estimated 335,829 Cambodians or 2.2 per cent of the
population were working abroad, mainly in Thailand, Malaysia and
South Korea. Their remittances of over USD 350 million accounted
for over 4 per cent of Cambodia's Gross Domestic Product
(GDP).

"Migration in itself is not a risk factor to health, but the
circumstances surrounding the migration process increase
vulnerability and expose migrants to various health risks,
including communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Migrants often lack the knowledge and skills to stay healthy or to
get the right treatment if they are abroad or on the move," says
IOM Regional Health Manager Dr. Jaime Calderon.

"This project will help the ministry and provincial health
departments to identify problem areas in border provinces, to
target health promotion interventions, and to train peer educators
in border communities where the migrants come from. It will use
existing local government health structures and NGO networks to
deliver essential health information and services to the migrants
and their families," he adds.

According to Calderon, irregular migrants who opt for so-called
3D (Dirty, Dangerous and Demanding) jobs abroad face the greatest
health risks. Many face abuses at the hands of employers and have
little or no access to primary health care, because their illegal
status puts them at continual risk of arrest and deportation.

Migrants suffering from communicable diseases, even if they are
treated, also frequently default on their treatment when they move
on, sometimes resulting in dangerous drug resistance, he
notes. 

A 2006 study commissioned by the Thai Ministry of Health showed
that Cambodian migrants in Thailand had markedly higher fatality
rates from communicable diseases than Thais or migrants from
Myanmar or Laos. These included meningitis, tetanus, hepatitis,
pneumonia, tuberculosis, pyrexia and malaria.

For more information, please contact:

Brett Dickson

IOM Phnom Penh

Tel. +855 979 170 645 or +855 23 216 532

Email: "mailto:bdickson@iom.int">bdickson@iom.int