Dr. Fatuma Ahmed, the Consultant on Gender and Social Protection for the IOM's Better Regional Migration Management Project, says female migrant workers abroad are doubly disadvantaged because they are discriminated as females and as migrants.
The International Organisation for Migration-IOM has urged African
governments to review and include access to health services for their
migrant workers in bilateral labour agreements.
This was one of
the recommendations made on the first day of the IOM "Regional Workshop
on Identifying Opportunities for Migrant Worker Health Inclusion into
Labour Migration Governance in East and Horn of Africa".
The two day workshop opened today at Lake Victoria Hotel, Entebbe.
The participants are drawn from the ten countries in the region.
IOM estimates that the
East and Horn of Africa region hosts over 400 million people including
asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. Since 2016, close to
six million people from the region have departed for work abroad,
particularly Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar.
Sanusi Tejan Savage, the Chief of Mission IOM Uganda says the workshop aims at bringing officials together to gain a better understanding of international migration law and how various principles can be applied to enhance inclusion of migrant workers and their families' health into the bilateral labour migration agreements and national health initiatives.
He said migrants, especially the undocumented and irregular ones, are often excluded from national programmes for health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, and care. "They also face high user fees, low levels of health literacy, poor cultural competency among health providers, stigma. So there is need to explore feasibility of accessing social security safety nets...and enable migrant workers to seek medical services."
Fatuma Ahmed, the Consultant on Gender and Social Protection for the
IOM's Better Regional Migration Management Project, says female migrant
workers abroad are doubly disadvantaged because they are discriminated
as females and as migrants.
Dr. Ahmed says female migrant workers
face health risks and human rights violations such as trauma,
depression, forced HIV test, sexual violence and abuse, long working
hours and limited or no rest even during menstruation and pregnancy.
They are also lack access to health services.
She adds that most
of the migrant workers persevere brutality, inhuman treatment and poor
working conditions because they have several responsibilities back home
and also fear deportation.
//Cue in:"The health risk...
Cue out:...hour, inadequate food."//
She explains that the well being of female migrant workers is determined
by the interplay between social and medical health factors, the
migration experience, gender roles, expectation and power relations.
a gender perspective enables us to develop a better understanding of
the determinants of health and the impact of migration on women and
girls in order to inform practices and policies aimed at optimizing
their health and well being," says Dr. Ahmed.
//Cue in:"As I said...
Cue out:...sign of failure."//
is now urging government officials, recruitment agencies, communities
and other stakeholders to advance for observance and protection of
health rights of the migrant workers.
//Cue in:"We need to...
Cue out"....in this process."//
from Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia agree with Dr. Ahmed on
the need for governments to advance for health rights for migrant
workers within and outside the region.
Perez Auma Wabwire, Deputy
Director Clinical Services Ministry of Health International Health in
Kenya, says female migrant workers in the country have difficulty in
accessing health services due to lack of information on the cost, when
and where to access the services, cultural and language barriers, high
cost of specialised care, age differences where patients undermine young
medics and also having few women in key decision making positions.
Grace Peter, the Director for Child Welfare at the Ministry of Gender,
Child and Social Welfare for South Sudan says the officials in the
region must ensure running bilateral labour agreements are reviewed so
that they are updated and cover more human rights protections for
Abu Magoba Kassim, a Clinical Psychologist at
Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital says a poor health seeking
attitude, not involving men in women matters, lack of super specialists such as
two gynaecologists at each Regional referral hospital which serve an
average of 40 districts, language barrier and poor communication
especially for medics who do not know how to communicate with persons
with disabilities are some of the things hindering
female migrant workers' health inclusion in labour migration governance
Dez Atwebembeire, the Assistant Commissioner Human
Resource Management at the Ministry of Health, says migrant workers are
mainly based in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and says these
workers, just like nationals and other migrants, access health services
at all levels because Uganda is not discriminatory. "The only thing is
that some of these facilities charge highly for these services,"
Bolly Odette, the IOM Ugandan Programme
Manager Labour Mobility and Human Development, is optimistic that
officials from the region will come up with joint solutions for
challenges among the migrant workers and also joint monitoring of
implementation of the bilateral labour agreements with the destination